Changing someone’s mentality can change someone’s life. As we observe World Menstrual Hygiene Day, we at Social Pukar, aim to educate the mass and raise our voice challenging myths and taboos. Read this thought-provoking article written by our Student Reporter K.Jyotsna.
Celebrating menstruation with pride not shame. Embrace menstruation with joy not guilt.
Women empowerment is the talk of the town today. While we have raised our voices against several injustices meted out to women, seldom have we spoken for a simple yet crucial prerogative. Just as the Right to Vote or Right to Education is pivotal to women empowerment, so is the basic right to menstruate without any hush-hush taboo or stigma attached.
As we observe World Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28th we aim to challenge the prejudiced notion that menstruating women are ‘impure’ and that menstruation is a sinful rather than a biological process. Today, we spread the knowledge of menstrual hygiene to as many people as possible and help break the unwarranted silence.
Stigma and Silence
A casual conversation with an elderly lady turned out to be a hard-hitting eye-opener. Forcefully isolated at home, food served in separate plates and restricted from sharing physical contact during her menses days because she was considered ‘impure’. We all know of one such woman- a friend, cousin sister or mother.
More often than not, it’s the women of the rural pockets that are at a higher risk of discrimination than their counterparts in the urban areas. Unfortunately, a majority of them still lack access to functional and clean toilets. Sanitary napkins still remains a distant dream. Usage of newspapers, leaves and rags as a substitute to sustainable pads is a reflection of the high illiteracy rate and lack of awareness about the several safe and user-friendly absorbent materials available to the women.
Whether you’re a man or a woman, menstruation matters.
Menstruation matters to everyone, everywhere. Men are members of the society too; the same society that stigmatizes and imposes normative restrictions on menstruating women. Voluntary participation from men should be encouraged as it not only promotes an equal and inclusive society but also, it creates a supportive environment for young girls and older women.
It’s disheartening to note that many educational institutions silently brush the issue under the carpet without giving it the due attention it deserves. Schools which are considered as temples of learning, choose not to create awareness about menstrual hygiene, partially because they think it’s not as important as learning Physics or History. As a result, 58% of men don’t learn about periods in school. This discouraging fact revealed by Catch news in 2016, reflects a low degree of sensitivity shown by the male gender towards the females. If this is the scenario, then what is the difference between men of the by-gone era and the present generation?
The Road Ahead
Many NGO’s such as Ecofemme and Saathi have been selling sustainable cloth pads and pads made out of banana fibre respectively online as an alternative to the plastic-made and hazardous disposable pads widely in use today. Kudos to them for coming up with a product that’s Eco-friendly and harmless! The disposable plastic pads which are commonly used in urban areas are known to cause skin irritations and even infections. Health concerns include an increased risk of cancer.
Complementing the efforts of the citizenry, one of the primary objectives of Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, Prime Minister Modi’s pet project, is ensuring an open-defecation free country while making sure every member of a family including women has access to toilets.
However, there’s a lot more that needs to be done. Installation of sustainable pad vending machines in all educational institutions, making pads tax free and educating men about this important subject, are just a few of many measures could go a long way in boosting the morale of women and instilling a sense of hope that the entire country cares for womankind.
Our Social Call
We have made great strides in several sectors like agriculture, transport, communication, IT etc. Nevertheless, of what use is a modernized exterior when our inner beings are still cloaked by myths and stereotypes? Femininity is a divine blessing, not a curse. So let’s celebrate it and not denounce it!
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