Period Poverty

Period Poverty, a term that acknowledges the lack of access to sanitary products, hygiene and the lack of awareness about menstruation. This isn't just a term, it's an ordeal reality for the menstruators with no privilege. In many parts of the world, period blood- the natural bodily fluid is reckoned as 'impure' and 'dirty' which furthermore adds to the stigma at physical and mental levels for people who menstruate. While talking about period poverty, it’s important for us to remember that not all women menstruate and not everyone who menstruates identifies themselves as a woman.

For a country that comes under ‘’developing’, India sure has baffling statistics about menstruation. India accounts to around 355 million menstruators and it is disheartening to know that only 36% of them have access to sanitary pads and the remaining use old cloths, mud socks and ash which exposes them to physical health risks as well as exposes them to uro-genital infections. In India, 70 percent of all reproductive diseases are caused by poor menstrual hygiene. About nearly 23 million girls drop out of school after they start their periods due to lack of proper facilities, resources and safe environment. For households with low income, sanitary pads are considered as an unaffordable luxury. It is also seen that menstruators in rural areas don’t have any knowledge about periods until they get their first period. The taboos attached to menstruation play a major cause in these statistics. The shame of red stains is so much so that people in this country are ashamed to talk about this natural biological process. It’s the 21st century, and menstruation is still stigmatized and the taboos surrounding it are no less than a wrath on an emotional, physical and mental level for the one who faces it. And the worst episode entails that these taboos around periods continue to be a part of the society like a chain passed on from one generation to another. This chain won’t stop until the right steps are taken to normalize and destigmatize menstruation and factly make people across the country aware about menstrual hygiene. This issue is prevalent and it needs to be eradicated right from its root causes in rural as well as urban parts of the country. Ending period poverty requires education on menstruation and also the support of the Health Ministry as well as the Government.

Periods are natural and it’s high time that our society wraps it’s mind around normalizing it instead of wrapping up sanitary products in papers. Talking about it and making a hesitation free room for open conversation around this natural process will open doors to a revolution of unmuting oneself . It’s 2021 and getting access to sanitary products and menstruation awareness should no longer be a privilege and luxury. It's also important that we recognize that the "period talk" shouldn't be exclusive to a gender. Everyone should be made aware and actively be made a part of the solution so that the generational shame attached to it starts to wither slowly and gradually. It is important, every gender is included and involved in discussions right from school, as this will help in awareness as well as it will provide the breakthrough of cultural and generational shame. Menstrual equity means access to sanitary products, proper sanitation and hygiene education for people. Advocating and implementing menstrual equity is the need of the hour because if not Now, then When?

All views expressed are personal to the author. The Youth's Lens holds no liability for any disputes arising from this article. The copyright for the article belongs to the author.