END THE STIGMA ~ “Making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030”

The fact that we live in the 21st century and still have menstruation stigma should come as a shock. But, even with the most woke crowd, it is an accepted fact that menstruation stigma is prevalent and may be a long way from being over.

The Fight Against the ‘Menstruation’ Stigma\


The fact that we live in the 21st Century and still have menstruation stigma should come as a shock. But, even with the most woke crowd, it is an accepted fact that menstruation stigma is prevalent and may be a long way from being over.

Menstruation Hygiene Management

Priyanka Barman, Sr. Msc Food Science and Nutrition University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, mentions that WHO and UNICEF (2014) have defined menstrual hygiene management (MHM) as “Women and girls using clean menstrual hygiene management material to absorb or collect blood that can be changed in privacy as and when necessary for the duration of the menstrual period, using soap and water for washing the body as required, and having access to facilities to dispose of used menstrual management materials.”

Lack of Menstrual Hygiene

More than 23 million Indian female students miss out on education every year because they lack access to proper menstrual hygiene and sanitation services. This is particularly worrisome in a country like India which already has such low female education.

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In India, cervix uteri cancer is the 3rd most common cancer and the 2nd leading cause of death. The leading cause of this?

Poor menstrual hygiene alone is responsible for two-thirds of the nearly 60,000 cases of cervical cancer deaths reported annually in the country, affecting 120 million menstruating adolescents and older. 

Millions of women across the country endure an unpleasant and demeaning experience with menstrual hygiene management (MHM). 

Menstrual Hygiene Day

Menstrual Hygiene Day was first celebrated in 2013 and was initiated by a German non-profit organisation called WASH United. 

It’s observed on May 28 because the average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, and women and girls menstruate for 5 of those days each month.

The main motto behind this day is to primarily burst the bubble of taboo and promote safe and hygienic practices for girls across the globe. 

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MHM has been incorporated into national policies and programmes by the Government of India as part of initiatives to improve the health, well-being, and nutritional status of adolescent girls and women and reduce adolescent girls’ absenteeism from school.

 The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare prioritizes MHM in the National Health Mission and the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn Child, and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) strategy. 

Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) in rural areas provide high-quality, subsidised sanitary napkins to adolescent girls. 

The Ministry of Women and Child Development’s SABLA programme promotes MHM awareness for adolescent girls’ health, nutrition, and empowerment. 

Initiatives to provide sanitary napkins to schoolgirls by installing napkin vending machines and providing environmentally safe disposal mechanisms like low-cost incinerators in girls’ washrooms for used MHM products. 

On March 8, 2018, the government launched 100% oxy-biodegradable sanitary napkins, “Suvidha”, in packs of four for Rs. 10 at Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana Stores. In addition to government efforts, a women-led NGO in Andhra Pradesh called “Tejobarath” by Vishali Kola has established multifarious activities in association with Menstrupedia under the banner “Safe Period, Happy Period,” with the goal of raising awareness about menstrual hygiene among rural and underprivileged girls through the distribution of comic books on menstrual hygiene and more than 10,000 Vforever sanitary napkins in various locations across Andhra Pradesh and Assam. 

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Breaking the Stigma

In a developing country like India, where a greater part of the nation is covered with a blanket of myths regarding menstruation—from being forbidden to enter the kitchen to being forbidden to wash hairs, to divulging period blood as dirty blood and shameful, to not discussing it aloud and generalising the use of cloth and old rags; ensuring healthy MHM for women would require a firm grasp on the complexities of the problem, the needs, and the influencing factors. 

Menstruation is a normal biological phenomenon, but studies nationwide show that awareness and understanding of this fact are atrociously low. Cultural norms also play a role in cutting short a girl’s formal education. These issues call for counselling and a more realistic approach to including them in the curriculum of schools and bringing about change, particularly amongst underprivileged girls. The ultimate goal is to create a world where no girl has to go without access to safe menstrual products. It’s also about elevating the conversation about periods from a whisper to a normal voice. 

The significance of Menstrual Hygiene Day cannot be overstated; it takes a dynamic spirit to spread the word, but changing everyone’s mentality isn’t possible; however, changing yours is, and we can begin TODAY. 

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