Noida: On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2018, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey will launch the #YesIBleed menstrual hygiene campaign on March 6.
The second edition of the campaign #YesIBleed will be launched at Amity University on Tuesday, almost a fortnight after its formal launching by Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi in New Delhi.
The objective of the campaign called “#Yes I Bleed” is to create a holistic approach to the issue of menstruation, which is an experience that transcends culture, class, and caste.
The United Nations has recognised menstrual hygiene as a global public health and a human rights issue yet across the globe. “Period poverty” as some call it, is a reality for millions of women and girls.
The campaign called “#Yes I Bleed” has been initiated formally across all multi-media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube to spread awareness about the issue.
The National Commission of Women (NCW) has extended full support to Shewings in the endevour to spread awareness about the core issue of every woman’s concern.
Rekha Sharma, Member and officiating Chairperson of NCW will be present on Tuesday. She shared the vision of the SheWings by saying that “It’s a socially reformative step. It was needed from long time. NCW and I fully support SheWings and its menstrual hygiene campaign #Yes I Bleed. Everyone should come up and support such campaign.”
Bollywood actress, producer, director Divya Khosla Kumar will be the special guest.
Speaking of the cause, she said, “She Wings is doing wonderful job. I want to dedicate my time and support to such initiates. Everyone should understand this it’s as natural as a human being.”
Dr. Amita Chauhan, Chairperson of Amity International Schools, said, “Menstruation is still a taboo subject in our country and a topic that even women are uncomfortable discussing in public. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a natural physiological process. It’s a privilege to hold such an event on the occasion of International Women’s Day in the Amity Campus”.
Last month, Maneka Gandhi had said she was happy to be present and associated with a much-needed awareness campaign, and added that the subject of menstrual hygiene is “more about a change of mindset than simply about the use of proper menstrual products”.
This (mindset change) is happening, but much more needs to be done. Menstruation is much more than just about losing blood and unused eggs, she added.
“Equally important is the safe disposal of used sanitary pads, which actually are an environmental disaster. In villages, the used pads often end up in village ponds, exposing every human being and animal to the risk of infection,” she added.
Gandhi further said that improper products and poor practices can have consequences for the physical and mental well being of a woman.
“Today, in India, approximately 35 crore women menstruate and it is estimated that only 12 percent use proper menstrual hygiene practices and menstrual products,” the minister said.
She also dwelled on the issue of school dropouts and poor attendance because of inadequate menstrual hygiene management. This also, she said, is one of the causes for loss of wages for women labourers.
Subodh Gupta, patron of SheWings, had said, “Through our programmes, we intend to end the reluctance to discuss the issue and enable positive interventions. We are aiming at spreading awareness about menstrual health education to adolescents and open dialogues on menstruation all along the way. We will focus on promoting awareness, supply of inexpensive and eco-friendly sanitary pads and proper means of disposal of used products.”
Reiterating that it is high time people dispel the misconceptions that surround the normal physiological process of menstruation and discard the restrictions imposed on women during “the time of the month”, Madan Mohit Bhardwaj, Co-Founder of SheWings said that having open conversations with women as well as men is the key to promote awareness on the issue. Madan informed that the campaign has already generated huge responses from all walks of life be it government sector, policymakers, corporate and social sectors.
According to the results of the study, “Sanitary Protection: Every Woman’s Health Right”, undertaken by AC Nielsen, only 12 percent of Indian women have access to sanitary napkins – the remaining 88 percent having no access whatever. They find sanitary pads unaffordable.
In India’s rural areas, with the lack of resources, education and awareness about personal hygiene, not just lack of information about hygiene products, the women don’t even have any conversation around menstruation.
For the less privileged, periods are the few ‘cursed’ days of the month. A woman on her periods cannot enter the temple, kitchen or take part in any auspicious occasion – because she is ‘impure’.
The 88 percent who do not have access to sanitary pads use unsanitised cloth, husk sand, tree leaves and even ash. These can cause severe reproductive health problems and infections, and can also lead to cervical cancer.
Apparently, it is high time that people understand that menstrual hygiene is of utmost importance. Such openness about puberty and menstrual hygiene is a welcome step in a country where even mothers avoid talking about it with their daughters.