By Taruni Kumar
Today is Menstrual Hygiene Day! And this year’s theme (yup, there’s a different theme every year) is empowerment.
Just earlier this year, a report in Outlook revealed that about 36 percent of Indian women feel uncomfortable buying sanitary products around other customers, and over 45 percent believe that menstruation is still a taboo subject.
Which is why this year’s theme of empowerment is event more crucial in a country like india. Direct your attention to this Change.org petition: Addressed to the Minister for Human Resource Development, Prakash Javadekar, it demands that menstrual hygiene education be made compulsory in schools. MH Day was started in 2014 by the International Secretariat of Menstrual Hygiene (charmingly called WASH United), and according to the organisers, half of all Indian girls have “no knowledge about menstruation when they get their period, leading to fear and poor menstrual hygiene practices”.
Aren’t you sick of carrying your entire purse into a public restroom, where there’s no place clean enough to put it down, just because you didn’t want to carry that pad or tampon in plain sight? That’s just a mild inconvenience compared to the story of Ruby that Nirmala Nair, Managing Director, WASH United India, mentions in her petition. All Ruby wants to do is play kabaddi and she works hard to do this. But when she gets her first period, she’s told by everyone at home and school that she’s ‘impure’ and is shunned from the kabaddi mat.
Infuriated? I know I am.
Just think about the information that young girls can’t easily access because nobody will talk to them about the dreaded menstruation cycle. Oh, the horrors of a perfectly natural biological function. Now think about how education about menstruation would help, as Nair puts it, “replace the stigma and silence around menstruation with conversation and confidence. We can build an India where every woman and girl is empowered to manage her menstruation safely, hygienically, with confidence and without stigma. We can ensure that no girl is limited by something as natural and normal as her period. We can build a world where they have #NoMoreLimits.”
Nair adds that if this petition is successful, “we will work with [the government] to create educational tools to make it happen! And once we reach girls in schools we would work towards reaching girls who are not a part of the formal education system”
So, join hands with WASH United and celebrate MHDay in line with this year’s theme of empowerment. Go sign the petition now and help empower women, both young and old, to actually talk about menstruation and menstrual health. Oh, and the boys as well. Because they need to know too.