Independence Day 2020 has a challenging context. Although India shall be celebrating its 74th independence on 15th August, 2020 but the real meaning of freedom for Indian women is far from reality. From basic rights to education, speech, equality etc, women have still a long way to go. Especially when we talk about having a right and independence to healthy and hygienic life, every month during her menstrual cycle a women is made to feel in cage of orthodox thinking, outdated and unhygienic menstrual practices and forced whispering of her unbearable cramps. Only 57.6% of women use sanitary napkins during their menses.
If this percentage wasn’t already a red flag about the rest of 42.4% of the women across the country resorting to unhygienic practices like using cloth, cotton, leaves, ash, or hay, the recent Corona lockdown created harsh circumstances for menstruating women. What a spurious Freedom!
On the occasion of 74th Independence Day, AROH Foundation, a national level NGO, with a mission to liberate women from Pain & Shame around Periods, initiated a mission “Period Freedom” with an objective to reach out to 100,000 needy girls in urban slums and villages and distribute sanitary napkins to them. At a time of COVID pandemic, when personal hygiene is of utmost importance, the need for hygienic means for women to manage their periods is all the more crucial.
AROH also organized a webinar “Period Freedom” on 13th August 2020 on the occasion of “International Youth Day” and Independence Day to Break the Taboo around menstruation and Promote Freedom of Women from Period Pain and Shame. It is even more important that we step up to end this taboo of menstruation. With more and more awareness that we spread, we need to address both the genders so that we make them comfortable and accept menstruation as a naturally occurring healthy phenomenon, instead of some shameful and impure occurrence that makes women untouchable for the time being.
Asha Mishra (Menstrual Hygiene Expert) and Dr. Neelam Gupta (Founder, AROH Foundation) shared their insights on how during times of Covid pandemic, health and hygiene is of extreme importance, and shared simple and cost effective measures to practice safe menstruation. The question answer session further nurtured the audience on how to practice safe menstrual practice whether in urban or rural setups. Adding icing to the cake, all participants were also provided with a participation certificate at the end of the webinar.
In context of the progressive mission, Dr. Gupta said “In times of Covid-19 pandemic, where health and hygiene is of utmost importance, lack of menstrual hygiene is only aggravating women’s risk to infection. We must help girls and women coming from less fortunate families to have access to safe period products. She urged everyone to help poor girls and women with safe sanitary pads even at personal level, by giving away napkins for their use. With a small effort, we will be saving countless lives on a country-wide level. And that’s how we can gift real freedom to our girls.