My name is Devyaan Arora. I am currently studying in 12th grade at St. Columba's school . I am loved, supported, encouraged and guided by my parents, teachers and friends. I am ambitious to explore new things for the benefit of my society. I deem the rules and responsibility as a sacred task.
We all know that menstruation is a natural process of the female body, but what some of us may not realize is that in many developing countries, the lack of information about menstrual hygiene as well as materials themselves creates a culture of taboos and misconception about menstruation and potential health risks. Talking about menstruation is taboo in most societies and this contributes to the ignorance and illiteracy on menstrual hygiene management. This is the main reason why I choose Menstrual Hygiene as my topic, as it would help to create awareness and normalize this normal biological process which is the key in maintaining the reproductive health of a woman.
AWARENESS ABOUT MENSTRUAL HYGIENE
Menstruation is a natural and essential part of a woman’s reproductive cycle. Without it, men, boys, women, girls would not exist. Yet, it is surrounded by myths, misconceptions, and taboos.
On any given day, more than 800 million women and girls are menstruating, yet menstrual health and hygiene is a neglected health and development issue. Taking care of yourself during menstruation is as important as taking care of your day-to-day activities. A little negligence in menstrual hygiene management can cause your body grievous harm, and you may also act as an instrument for the spread of infection to others.
Regressive socio-cultural norms pertaining to menstruation are responsible for the use of unhygienic products to manage periods instead of much safer sanitary pads. Women are forbidden to bathe or cleanse themselves properly during these days, which increases the threat posed to their health due to lack of menstrual hygiene. Furthermore, they also feel scared to go out to school or work since those places too lack facilities like clean water, soap, and washrooms.
Cleanliness of genital area and access to safe menstrual hygiene products can reduce the incidents of infection up to 97%. The proper use of sanitary napkins for periods is important to reduce risks associated with periods. Changing sanitary napkins every 4 hours and washing hands every time sanitary napkins are changed, are small but significant steps towards ensuring good hygiene during periods. Without the discomfort and pain associated with infections, women can enjoy stress-free periods and continue
participating in all day-to-day activities.
According to a UNICEF study conducted in 2011:
Only 13% of girls in India are aware of menstruation before menarche.
60% of girls missed school on account of menstruation,
79% faced low confidence due to menstruation and 44% were embarrassed and humiliated over restrictions.
Thereby, Menstruation adversely impacts women's education, equality, maternal and child health.
More than 77% of menstruating girls and women in India use old cloth, which is often reused, ashes, newspapers, dried leaves, and husk sand during periods.
WHAT CAN WE DO ?
Gender equality requires a partnership between males and females, and it cannot be achieved without the involvement of men and boys. So we need to involve as many men as possible. Men have an integral part to play in the conversation related to menstruation, as brothers, fathers, uncles, cousins, and teachers. Men and boys might find it awkward to initially discuss menstruation and menstrual hygiene because it is believed that menstruation is completely and purely women’s personal affair. But once men get a good understanding and awareness of menstruation and menstrual hygiene practices, they would get empowered to act. The actions may be advocating for clean and private toilets, role-modeling or creating a period positive environment among the students, communicating care and empathy rather than disgust and shame, or even stitching pads for the women. Also, decision-making power for the health issues should be given to the women themselves.
Both men and women have a strong interest in learning about menstruation but they usually feel shy in discussing it, so training them together at a place with trust-building and friendly conversation can help out. Men and boys can easily support women and girls while dealing with menstruation in domains like household, community, school, and work as they influence women’s and girl’s experiences and ways of dealing with menstrual health management through many roles, which include father, husband, friend, brother, student, peer, teacher, community leader, employers, and policymakers.
ROLE OF OTHERS ? AWARENESS? HELP ?
Society often treats periods and women’s health in general as if it’s something you don’t talk about in public. Menstruation awareness can help erase the stigmas around periods. That doesn’t just apply to girls who will experience menstruation firsthand. Boys need to be in on the conversation too so they know there’s nothing “gross” about a girl being on her period.
Educating Young People
Another really important issue menstruation awareness helps with is educating young people about their periods and feminine hygiene. Because of the stigmas we talked about earlier, some girls may not want to talk to their parents or guardians about their periods. If they hear the facts from reliable sources, they will not have good information to follow, the mystery surrounding periods will go away.
Normalizing open conversations about menstruation will help girls learn about the different femine menstrual products available to them and how to properly use them. According to Unicef, poor menstrual hygiene can pose physical health risks and has been linked to reproductive and urinary tract infections. Creating awareness and openness is one of the most effective ways to help teach girls how to properly manage their menstrual hygiene.
Addressing Period Poverty
Another reason menstruation awareness has become an important issue is period poverty. Period poverty includes According to reporting by Forbes, 35 states in the US have a tax on menstrual products because they are considered “non-essential goods.” The increased cost of things like pads, tampons, and menstrual cups means they need every month. This is referred to as period poverty.