Menstruation, (मासिक धर्म, माहवारी), the name itself brings hushed silence wherever and whenever one utters it in India, whether in the company of women or men. This pervasive silence has existed for centuries, making the creator of life, a silent sufferer. Revered and prayed to in her Godly form but in her earthly form, relegated to a dark corner in the house.
During menstruation, girls and women in India face many complex challenges, including stigma, lack of access to menstrual hygiene products, ostracism from communities, dropping out from school, and more.
Data from various studies suggest that a majority of girls in India lack awareness about menstruation, sometimes even perceiving it as a disease. It is also seen that up to 88% women in India use home-made products like old clothes, rags etc. In extreme cases, women also resort to shocking alternatives such as hay, dry leaves, ash, newspapers, plastic, sand or husk during menstruation.
Most of the women using rags do not wash them properly or disinfect them in any manner. Poor menstrual hygiene management can cause reproductive tract infections and adversely affect a girl’s ability to bear children. Thus, poor menstrual hygiene affects her future prospects of being financially independent, bearing children or both.
It is required to remove the shame, stigma and silence around menstruation and debunk the myths created around it over the centuries - “you’ll bring ill fortune, you are untouchable, people will become ill if you’re anywhere around them.” Just the simple act of talking about periods and menstrual hygiene, and breaking the hush is the first big step towards eliminating period shame. Then will come the support for sanitary pad accessibility and affordability.
The realization of the immense price, girls and women have been paying in India for our silence around menstruation cemented the commitment of Meri Pad Yatra and the professionals of AIPC Uttar Pradesh to undertake concrete steps to shatter the glass wall!
Meri Pad Yatra supported by AIPC UP has begun its first initiative, to reach out to the villages in the interiors of Uttar Pradesh, and endeavour to improve the life conditions of women and girls. Our effort focuses on “Menstrual Hygiene Management” which we at Meri Pad Yatra call the first step to the "Journey to Freedom" – freedom from stigma & pain.