Globally, at least 500 million women and girls lack proper access to menstrual hygiene facilities. Due to cultural norms and stigmas, many girls are not adequately informed about the realities of menstruation. And they are facing restrictions and discrimination during periods like not being allowed to use water and sanitation facilities and in some cases even excluded from home (Chaupadi) as menstruation is considered impure and untouchable. Practices related to menstruation hygiene are of major concern as it has a health impact; if neglected, it leads to toxic shock syndrome, reproductive tract infections (RTI), and other vaginal diseases.
Discrimination during menstruation is inhuman and unethical. It’s important to recognize that unhygienic menstrual practices not only affect women and girls’ health, but also injure their dignity and confidence.
One of the main reasons why menstruation is a taboo and menstruation hygiene is neglected gender inequality. Unequal rights given to men and women result in women’s voices being ignored within households and communities and in development programs.
By educating both men and women regarding menstruation, we can overcome these false beliefs and taboos. Education for girls and the wider community on menstruation is crucial to address discrimination and exclusion, and to create an environment where women and girls can articulate their needs—particularly in contexts where there are significant taboos and restrictions, coupled with a lack of accurate information on sexual and reproductive health.
Where awareness and quality menstrual hygiene products had just started to make an impact, the progress has taken a backseat in current situation. In this pandemics of Covid-19, amid the global lockdown, availability of menstrual hygiene products have become scarce if not ceased. Menstrual hygiene management is always a priority for menstruating girls and women like any other fundamental needs. While the government is keen to address essential humanitarian needs, there seems to be a lack of attention to menstrual hygiene needs of girls and women.
Envision a world where the girls and women can pursue their dreams and are not left behind due to the most natural physiological phenomena like menstruation.
Article by: Samragyee Thapa.
Samragyee is a Youth Champion at YoSHAN.