Did you know that women spend around 3,000 days of their lifetime menstruating? About 336 million girls and women in India are of reproductive age and menstruate for 2-7 days, every month. Although menstruation is natural and a normal part of life for women and girls in a reproductive age, it is stigmatized around the world. The lack of education on this subject is replaced with taboos and myths that can cause girls to miss out on education, life at home and in general society, as well as causing several problems to their physical and mental health. Menstrual Hygiene (MH) Day was created to bring awareness on the importance of proper Menstrual Hygiene Management and the challenges that are still faced by women and girls today:
- Only 18% of women and girls are aware of menstrual pads and know how to properly use them in order to prevent infection.
- 23 million of girls drop out of school every year, because of lack of menstrual hygiene management facilities, including availability of sanitary napkins
- 10% of the girls in India believe menstruation is a disease (UKAID) and only 13% of the girls are aware of menstruation before their first period (UnicefMHM).
- Over 77% of menstruating girls and women in India use an old cloth, which is often reused.
- Cultural and religious sentiments can lead to stigmas that can result in isolation and feelings of impurity
This year’s theme for MH Day “It’s Time for Action” highlights that MH is an urgent public health issue and a fundamental tool for the empowerment of girls! Only with appropriate MH girls can unlock their full potential and access all economic and educational opportunities.
On this day we focused on breaking the silence and raising attention to increase political priority and catalyse action globally, at national and local levels also. Menstrual Hygiene Day was celebrated with inspiring activities and initiatives, joining together volunteers, pilgrims, devotees and Parmarth Rishikumars. Raising awareness on the subject, tenths of people joined the Unicef Red Dot Challenge, putting dots on our hands to show our solidarity with menstruating women and girls everywhere and to show the commitment of our Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and Divine Shakti Foundation to uplift and empower them and help ensure they have access to menstrual hygiene. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji and Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji also lead a pledge on the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council’s innovative MHWheel, to break the stigma and silence associated with menstrual hygiene, offering a special MHM bracelet as a symbol of our commitment to work together towards this vital cause.