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In many cases, Covid-19 has brought communities together, with people helping the needy by distributing food and groceries. But what about sanitary pads?
One day, I received a call from my domestic helper who told me that they didn’t have money to buy sanitary pads for their daughter because that was just not the priority at the moment. This made me think of how Rs.25 is a lot of money for some people and menstrual well-being isn’t an immediate priority for them.
I always knew that many women in rural areas don’t have access to menstrual hygiene supplies but after talking to a few women in local slums around my area, I realised that women in cities are using cloth strips as well. We live a privileged life which makes us think that everyone in cities uses sanitary napkins, but the reality is quite different.
I helped our domestic worker with some money, yet this led me to think about the large number of ladies like her who might not be able to follow menstrual cleanliness and use unsterilised cloth strips.
Later that day, I decided to raise a few thousands for slums in my area, but to my surprise I received a great response from everyone and raised around Rs.45,000 in just 4-5 days. I would also like to mention that 85% of my donors were male; it gave me immense happiness to see how men in our society are becoming open to talk about such issues and that they too consider menstrual health an important issue.
Even after receiving the funds, my main concern was executing the distribution. I was extremely upset when I didn’t receive any helping hand, so I planned the distribution single handedly with one of my male friends.
I started the distribution in local slums and we distributed around 1900 packs of sanitary napkins. During the donation drive, I experienced a lot of positive responses from many women. They were quite surprised to see someone distributing sanitary pads and asked me if I was selling them. I also received a lot of negative reactions; some women were too shy to take pads publicly and some said that they don’t want to use them. I was also asked by some men to get out of their area and stop this distribution. This makes me think of how menstrual health issues are still a taboo topic even in a metropolitan city.
I would like everybody to comprehend the need for menstrual hygiene and how clean and safe menstrual hygiene products are a need and not a luxury. According to some studies, only 18% of Indian women have access to menstrual hygiene. My goal is to make people aware about the importance of menstrual hygiene and prioritize the use of sanitary products.
I plan to keep distributing pads and spreading awareness about menstrual health, it’s a taboo we need to overcome now! Many women have infections or even die because people are not educated about menstrual health. We need more women to talk about their menstrual problems openly. Menstruation is a natural process and we shouldn’t shy away from talking about it.
In a country where talking about menstrual conditions is a taboo, let’s bring about the change that’s long overdue!
Image via Canva
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