"I had to walk 5 kms on my first day of period to find a pack of sanitary napkins"- Sunita (name changed, a slum dweller in the southern part of Kolkata)
The year 2020 has been difficult for all of us and West Bengal like many others states in India has been battling with the COVID-19 situation and on 20th May super cyclone amphan struck. This acted as an extended challenge for West Bengal Government because of the massive level of destruction that the cyclone left behind and simultaneously increased number of covid cases. Since lockdown was imposed, Rangeen Khidki Foundation (RKF) have been advocating for accessibility of menstrual health products and services under which we have started this campaign on Milaap. We have collaborated with multiple organisations and Institutions like Kolkata Police, government shelter homes, grassroots organizations to make menstrual hygiene products accessible. While the lockdown caused disruption of steady income, livelihood options and mobility, leading to reduced purchasing power of households, the cyclone added to the existing distress because of the destruction to homes, agricultural lands and livestock.
In our covid response work, we were already donating disposable and reusable pads, and we found it important to also support vulnerable menstruators who have been affected by Amphan.
RKF supports and advocates for sustainable menstruation and strongly feels that DSN are not a sustainable option for environmental and health concerns but we also recognise that using reusables and inducing a behavioural change in the time of covid crisis or natural disasters like cyclone or both can be a challenge. Access to supportive infrastructure like hygienic washrooms or clean water may be difficult for many menstruators. We believe that sustainable menstruation and use of DSN is part of the same movement: ending period poverty.
RKF therefore started distributing menstrual products (both reusables and disposables) during covid response and cyclone response work and we are happy to share that in these past 2 months we have reached to over 30,000 menstruators with more than 4 lakhs of sanitary napkins (both disposable and reusables) in Kolkata and cyclone affected areas of WB. We continue to engage in similar work in the next couple of weeks including access to menstrual health education and products to ensure menstruation is given the importance it deserves. Menstruation is normal and natural which neither stops for the Pandemic or Natural Disasters.(For more information please check “UPDATE” section)
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