Students, activists create awareness on menstrual hygiene in Noida
It was an evening to shrug off the stigma surrounding menstruation and affirm that its ‘time’s up’ for societal prejudices. Leaders, policymakers, activists, faculty and students at an event in Noida on Tuesday discussed the challenges for Indian women with regard to menstrual hygiene.
Amity University and SheWings organised the launch of the second edition of #YesIBleed at Amity University campus in Sector 125 to create awareness on taboos associated with menstruation and promote menstrual hygiene among women.
Putting up a strong rebuttal against prejudices with regards to menstruation prevalent in Indian society, students of Amity University presented a street play titled ‘Apavitra Kyu’ (Why Impure?), wherein various characters narrated the ordeal Indian women face due to a lack of information on menstruation.
“Around 50% of girls in India are not aware of menstruation and that it is a natural process until they experience it. The feeling of shame and lack of information associated with menstruation often force girls in rural regions to avoid going to school once they hit puberty. Women are not allowed inside kitchens or temples during their monthly cycle and they tend to hide this fact from their fathers and brothers. Many women of underprivileged sections use harmful items such as rags and make do without sanitary pads, which results in infections,” Ravi Shankar, co-founder, SheWings, said.
Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Union minister of state for health and family welfare, Rekha Sharma, the chairperson of the National Commission for Women, Priyanka Raina, a radio jockey and the wife of cricketer Suresh Raina, and Divya Kumar, an actor and Bollywood producer, were present for the panel discussion and seminar.
“This is an issue which young people need to discuss with their family to rid the stigma associated with it. Ideally, sanitary pads must be changed after four hours to avoid menstrual infection and these should be made available to women of all strata and ages,” said Divya Kumar.
Rekha Sharma stressed the importance of menstruation being accepted as a natural process. “I am happy that we are finally talking about an issue that should have been discussed 50 years ago but, nevertheless, it’s a welcome change. The need is to accept menstruation as a natural process so that young girls are comfortable discussing it not just with their mothers but fathers as well. Colleges and educational institutions must have proper disposal mechanisms students to discard used sanitary pads. Menstrual hygiene is a human right,” Sharma said.
Choubey spoke on the plans and policies of the union government to ensure increased availability of sanitary pads for women in public places.
”The Union government has asked 17 states to send their performance improvement plans (PIPs) so as to allocate funds for making sanitary pads available in public places. We allocated ₹32 crore in 2016-17 and ₹44.4 crore n 2017-18 for this purpose,” Choubey said.