Menstrual Health Awareness Drive to Empower Girls

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Ever wondered why pharmacies in India wrap up a packet of sanitary napkins in newspapers or a black bag? It is so that girls/women who purchase it, do not display it out in public. That is exactly where the problem begins!

From a very young age, especially in India, girls are taught, rather trained, to succumb to the pain. Irrespective of the time, their physical health during their cycle is deeply neglected, not considered in the first place. The challenges faced by young girls and women have always been the topmost issues in the Indian culture. Let’s talk about one such issue; call it menses, menstruation, or periods. This has been a taboo in Indian society for generations, impacting not only the physical state of women but also their mental health.

In some of the less economically developed parts of the country, a large number of girls are forced to drop out of school once their menses commence. They are barred from their basic right to education merely because they reach a certain age of maturity. This taboo, that is widespread across the country, often excludes women from social gatherings and religious events. Even in the year 2020, women are not allowed to enter the kitchen when on their periods. Their utensils, food, and accommodation are different from the rest of the household. She is made to feel like a stranger in the same house that is supposed to keep her safe. With the fear of being treated differently, almost 71% girls in our country, reportedly, do not know about menstruation – the basics, facts, and overall hygiene. Due to this unawareness, unhygienic practices are adopted by young girls. Old rags, dusty clothes, unwashed rags, leaves, hay, etc. are used instead of sanitary napkins. What they fail to realize is that all these substitutes can be life-threatening and could lead to various diseases. Poor protection and inadequate washing facilities may increase susceptibility to infection. Unfortunately, menstrual hygiene products are not easily available to girls belonging to low-income families.

Due to this fear of societal stigma, many women try to get rid of their wasted material in the dead of the night, majorly in the absence of male presence around them. Their unawareness compromises their hygiene which leads to fatal diseases. Yet, the root cause is lack of knowledge amongst people regarding menstruation, which in turn has a negative impact. What’s alarming is that this unawareness is not restricted to rural India.

To tackle this problem and bring about a change in society, and most importantly to create awareness among the minds of young, we at Giving for Good Foundation initiated a project - Kavach - a movement. We believe that change comes with knowledge and so educating young girls belonging to marginalized backgrounds seemed like the right place to start. To spread awareness among 2000 young minds, we provided every young girl a menstrual kit which consisted of a reusable towel, clean undergarments, clothes-washing soap, handwashing soap along with a decent 4-month supply of sanitary napkins. A team of highly experienced professionals conducted a 40-day workshop that covered topics around puberty, women's safety, menstrual health, and hygiene. We helped young girls and women understand the importance of exercising their basic rights in society and created a safe space for them to talk about their menstrual health. Apart from this, a complete guide through puberty and the changes associated with it were taught which helped these lovely ladies understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind their period. From busting myths to understanding facts, this project was a huge success and holds a special place in our hearts. After all, the joy of liberating young minds is beyond comparison!  

So now, we have done our bit to make a difference, how about you?