We don’t question the validity of a monthly mobile bill, a weekly holiday, an alternate day hair wash or a daily vitamin. So why are we still questioning the validity of periods? We’re allowed to talk about laser hair removal, what kind of makeup we wear and as many selfies as our Instagram accounts will allow, but mention menstruation in a room full of youth and you’ll probably hear pin drop silence.
But this isn’t TMI! This is the natural cyclic discharge of the lining of the uterus. While it needs no introduction on its own, yet we all shy away from mentioning it, learning about it and teaching young women about how they can manage those seven days better. Who would believe we live in the year 2020? All we still seem to be doing is encouraging ignorance, myths, period shaming and tell girls either directly or subliminally that getting their periods makes them weak. Our conversations or lack of them tell them they are vulnerable and that menstruation is an embarrassing, dirty secret that no one wants to hear about.
Periods can be painful and exhausting and like it or not; they are here to stay. But young girls all around India would say the stigma and relentless persecution is sometimes far worse. Add to it the old ways of thinking that say women are unclean and must stay in a separate room during ‘that’ time of the month and grown men not understanding that its rude to assume a woman is PMSing if she is ever upset, sad or emotional.
Sometimes the crisis is far simpler. Young women in some remote places lack access to clean water and sanitary conditions to keep themselves clean. Others don’t know the first thing about using sanitary napkins, tampons or menstrual cups. With one entire half of the gender divide living with body aches, cramps, and stomach upsets before and during their periods, it’s a testament to women’s strength and resilience that can still accomplish so much despite it all.
There is a tidal wave of RED coming, and it’s crashing down on the shores of ignorance hard. Everything from our culture to our media channels is beginning to register that change is coming.
City dwellers might get their information from peers, media and the internet. But in rural areas, where data isn’t as accessible, young women may not have a female figure to guide them through their first cycle or what comes after. Many of them may not even have access to hygiene products and are often forced into using wads of cotton, ash, sand or folded rags. The risk of infection is very high and can lead to several unfortunate cases where girls either stay away from school for a week every month or drop out entirely. Yet, we know that knowledge is power and educating school-going children across the nation will go a long way to creating change and more options for young girls to succeed.
Young girls should be prepared for the changes in their bodies and how to handle them. Young boys should be introduced to the idea that this is normal and perhaps even how they can help their mothers, sister and future wives and daughters navigate this tricky time. When parents, children and educators can have open, meaningful conversations about periods, they remove the power that myths and superstition have over us.
Starting meaningful conversations about menstruation and period safety, Whisper has been working hard to change the status quo. Besides providing menstrual health education and distributing free sanitary pads to 45 lakh girls across 40,000+ schools every year for the past three decades, they are continually breaking down barriers and bringing meaningful change to communities.
Yet this is not only about talking the talk; they even empowered women to create a livelihood by selling sanitary pads and becoming agents of change in their own micro circles. Things are changing slowly, and you needn’t stand on the periphery, feeling helpless. This is your chance to stand up for a worthy cause that can have repercussions for generations to come. You can be a part of the drive to make menstruation a part of our school’s curriculum where it can be quickly disseminated, discussed and understood from a factual point of view. It’s vital, necessary and long overdue.
If you believe that this shift in thinking is long overdue and want youth across the country to grow up with better ideals and information than the decades before, sign the petition here www.periodofpride.com or give a missed call on 99996 71283 and pledge your support today
This is a partnered post.