A lot has been said about a woman’s menstrual cycle and it did became a topic of discussion with initiatives being announced and statements being made at public forums, yet. the ground reality seems quite unchanged…
Young girls in government schools of the city still skip going to schools during their menstrual cycle since cloth pads made at home risk bleeding and affording a sanitary napkin for their entire cycle is a far off dream.
The Pune Municipal Corporation approved a budget of one crore for distribution of free sanitary napkin among the girls studying in PMC schools but this initiative seems to have fallen short.
“Even after the approval of a designated budget we do not see things working on the ground. Moreover, handing out a couple of pads won’t work. We are forced to go back to the cloth ones that are a risk. Sometimes we source cloth pads made by local NGO’s that are quite reliable and then reuse them for months. There is a certain amount of hygiene risk that is inevitable,” quotes a class eight student.
With help from NGO’s like Samajh Bandh that make four layered cotton cloth pads which are safe and hygienic, women have been given a safer option rather than the primitive unhygienic dry leaves etc used during their periods in rural Maharashtra.
62% women do not use pads mainly due to lack of accessibility (shy to buy) and affordability which leads these women to use unhygienic methods and risking their lives.
“Even in this day and age, the social stigma attached to a woman’s menstrual cycle is very prominent and has been taking the lives of many women over time,” quotes Sachin Asha Subhash, convener, Samajh Bandh.
“There is a lack of awareness among the women in the rural areas of the state regarding menstrual hygiene. Even mothers do not speak about this with their daughters because they hardly have any knowledge themselves.
“I appeal to the youngsters in the city to come out, speak and help break the silence on menstruation. Only then people will realise its importance and begin taking it seriously,” Subash adds.
Meghana Pundit, 41, a city based counsellor does believe that we have come a long way and have started taking women and their ‘problems’ seriously.
“This is essentially thanks to the increase in the number of women workforce in every stream. Women have finally started getting their due. Periods is not a luxury for us, it’s a biological change that women undergo every month.
Giving a designated period leave might be exploited by women, but if the discomfort is unbearable, it as like an emergency and leave can help. We go through a lot in those 5-6 days and that needs to be respected,” Pundit shares.
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