According to census data 2011,about 336Mn girls and women are in the reproductive age group and menstruate for 2-7 days.In 2021,the number would have increased easily to about 355Mn.Only 48%rural women use a hygienic method of menstrual protection as compared to 78% of urban women(NFHS-2016-16).
Apart from the gap in usage of hygiene products,another issue is only about 45% of them use blood absorbents while rest replying on clothes,ashes,sand etc.
This not only costs their health a toll but also ruins education for young girls.About 23Mn school girls drop out of school due to improper school hygiene.
What is a period?
The red stain young girls fear that might be a disease is a period.According to healthline.in period is:-
As a woman, her period is her body’s way of releasing tissue that it no longer needs. Every month, her body prepares for pregnancy.
The lining of uterus gets thicker as preparation for nurturing a fertilized egg. An egg is released and is ready to be fertilized and settle in the lining of uterus.
If the egg is not fertilized, body no longer needs the thicker lining of the uterus, so it starts to break down and is eventually expelled, along with some blood. This is a period, and once it’s over, the process starts all over again.Time period of 21 days usually.
Some women,girls also face certain problems.Like cramps,spotting,nausea,lethargy,fever etc.As and so required there are hot water wags for reducing cramps, certain medicines help relieve the pain.
If the flow is too high and for many days,one must visit a doctor earliest.
Various Products that can be used as an alternative to cloth,ash:
Sanitary pads began to be made of Super Absorbent Polymer (SAP) as an absorbent material, with Polyethylene (PE) for back cover. This makes it waterproof.It is available in cotton and dry layer.Debate has been going on whether these pads are causing environment degredation.As an alternative biodegradable pads are available in the market but their cost is high.
This product is similar to sanitary pads but tampons absorb the menstrual blood before it leaves the body.Its application is initially difficult but once one starts using,they feel comfortable in it.The catch here is it is so comfortable that sometimes women forget to change it,leading to infections.
- MENSTRUAL CUP
It is a plastic object to be inserted inside women during her period.The cup stores blood which can be thrown and the cup cleaned to re insert it.
Environment conservation wise cups are better as they can be reused for not just months but years with proper washing.Many women though it uncomfortable because it is unconventional.
A lot needs to be done to encourage women,girls to use hygienic products during their cycle:
- Talking freely about it with young children to remove taboo associated with it as 71% adolescent girls in India remain unaware of menstruation till menarche
- Providing pads free or at affordable prices
- Not leaving boys,men excluded in the conversation of periods.It is natural phenomena that women have everymonth.
- Sensitizing parents specially rural ones,to shift from cloth to pad or anything suitable
- Enlarging onus on social media,print media,Audio visual media to raise awareness programs.
Some noteworthy and appreciable initiatives by UNICEF in INDIA:-
- UNICEF, along with partners, launched MAHIMA (Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management for Adolescents Girls Project) project in Jharkhand to help adolescent girls break the silence that surrounds menstruation by imparting appropriate knowledge, recognizing the importance hygiene, enabling girls to talk freely, and facilitating behavior change.
- A UNICEF-spearheaded project, which addresses and strengthens menstrual hygiene management in Uttar Pradesh. The project aims at piloting a social and behavioural change and communication strategy for menstrual health and hygiene management among rural adolescent girls in the age group of 10-19 years experiencing menarche
- Women’s self-help group (SHG) in Gujarat, supported by UNICEF, makes affordable & bio degradable sanitary pads as part of the MHM programme. Low cost sanitary products encourage women to develop safe and hygienic practices and advocate the same in the community.