A woman’s menstrual health is crucial to her well-being and also to the well-being of her family and community. But too often — especially in the developing world — mindsets, customs and institutional biases prevent women from getting the menstrual health care they need. Menstrual hygiene continues to be amongst the most challenging development issues today. Menstruation is normal and a healthy part of life and yet girls and women in India go through extreme struggles to manage their period every month. A large chuck of the Indian population believes this natural cycle to be a ‘curse’, ‘impure’ and ‘dirty’ among other things, courtesy of the ancient myths surrounding menstruation in our country.

According to a New survey, the top menstrual hygiene concerns for women during their periods are disturbed sleep, menstrual cramps and dirty public toilets. Out of the total number of women surveyed, more than half or 53.2 per cent, said they do not have sound sleep during the first two days of their periods. The survey revealed that 67.5 per cent women are still worried about the risk of spotting during periods when they are asleep at night.

The need of the hour is to focus on a strategy that converges key departments in the government — health, education, women and child development and rural development among others — and improves accountability towards issues related to menstrual health management. The way forward lies in a community-based approach in which local influencers and decision-makers are sensitised to champion the issue and behavioural change campaigns targeted at both men and women are deployed to dispel myths and misconceptions. There is also a huge opportunity to create public-private collaborations to drive such campaigns and increase access to affordable menstrual hygiene products for rural and semi-urban regions. This could be done through the installation of sanitary pad vending machines at key public places, workplaces, schools, and colleges, as well as Anganwadi centres or childcare centres for rural areas.

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