World Menstrual hygiene day aims to destigmatize menstruation by giving women the knowledge and awareness that can set them free.
World Menstrual Hygiene Day, celebrated on the 28th May every year, aims to raise awareness about the importance of menstrual hygiene and combat taboos associated with the same, with the goal to empower women, so they can unlock their full potential in their professional and personal lives.
Why do we need a day dedicated to menstrual hygiene?
Menstruation is a monthly reality of every young girl and women, this is one of the signs that their bodies are healthy. Their healthy reproductive age is also a sign of their healthy youth, this is the age girls should focus on their studies and building themselves for a future they deserve. However, myths and stigmas surrounding menstruation cause some women and girls to miss school and work. In several places in India, women are still put in isolation when they are menstruating.
Two-thirds of girls miss school during periods due to pain, fear of staining clothes, getting teased by classmates, and also due to lack of sanitation and disposal infrastructure for sanitary pads. Many girls or women who use cloth, do not wash it properly or dry it in the sun.
Surveys by the ministry of health reveals on menstrual hygiene
Surveys by the Ministry of Health in 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2012 found out that most problems related to menstrual hygiene in India are preventable but are not due to low awareness and poor menstrual hygiene management.
• 355 million women in India are in their menstruating age, however, only 42.6 million women have the access to sanitary napkins due to their lack of accessibility and affordability. Due to lack of knowledge around menstruation, the majority of women in rural areas do not want to spend on sanitary napkins as old clothes or sand is thought to be good enough for something ‘dirty’ like menstruation.
• 23 million girls drop out of the school annually due to lack of menstrual hygiene. Lack of functional toilets in school and lack of accessibility and affordability being the main issue.
• Nearly 60,000 cases of cervical cancer deaths are reported every year from India, two-thirds of which are due to poor menstrual hygiene. Other health problems associated with menstrual hygiene like anaemia, prolonged or short periods, infections of reproductive tracts, as well as psychological problems such as anxiety, embarrassment and shame.
Restrictions are imposed on menstruating girls and women on entering kitchen, place of worship, and participating in socio-cultural activities. This makes women view something as normal and important as menstruation like a shortcoming.
“It’s Time for Action”
The theme for the 2019 World Menstrual Hygiene is “Its Time for Action”- aiming to emphasize the urgency of this public health issue and shedding light on the different ways poor menstrual hygiene is keeping women from living their life to their full potential, both professionally and personally. Having an open conversation about menstruation and menstrual hygiene will help destigmatize menstruation.
“There is no awareness of menstruation, hence it is considered dirty. Being a ‘dirty’ occurrence, a menstruating girl is isolated or forced to drop out of school as unlike urban areas, access to sanitary napkins in rural areas is low. This cycle is handed over from mother to daughter but the taboo on menstruation remains.” said Meenakshi Sharma, Coordinator for Menstrual Hygiene Management, WASH Alliance.
The theme “It’s Time for Action” for World Menstrual Hygiene day, also highlights the transformative power of improved menstrual hygiene to empower the world’s women and girls and unlock their economic and educational opportunities.https://www.healthwire.co/talk-to-the-girls-listen/