SUDAYA – Gifting sanitary napkins to the needy and formulating the change for a better society

Sanitary Hygiene is vital to the empowerment and well-being of women and girls worldwide. It is about more than just access to sanitary pads and appropriate toilets – though those are important. It is also about ensuring women and girls live in an environment that values and supports their ability to manage their menstruation with dignity. According to World Health Organization, a person aged 10–19 years is considered as an adolescent, the transition period between the childhood and adulthood, and is marked with the growth and development of the child. It is recognized as a special phase in a girl’s life cycle, which requires special attention. Menarche is considered as a significant biological milestone in a woman’s life as it marks the onset of the reproductive phase of her life. Unfortunately, due to lack of knowledge on menstruation preparedness, management, shyness or embarrassment the situation becomes worse for girls especially in rural communities. Menstruation is a natural process but is still a taboo in Indian culture and it is viewed as messy and grimy.

On 29th August, to help the women and spread an awareness about the cause, our organization Sudaya conducted an event, in which Motive8 Trust-organizers of Men 4 Menstruation Campaign collaborated and even supported us monetarily. In the event we visited “Munda Sahi” at Chandaka, Bhubaneswar. It was a place of 165 migrant families lodging. They earn their bread and butter by farming. They were deprived of these basic facilities and our effort was not just to provide these necessities but also to enlighten them about managing their menstrual health safety and with dignity.

 We distributed 100 sanitary napkins to the community women. The women were not much aware about the usage of these sanitary napkins and they still use cloth during these days. They were not properly informed about the proper sanitation and hygiene systems. But the young girls knew about the utilization of sanitary napkins and were glad to accept them. The smile on their faces expressed their delighted thoughts.

It wasn’t quite surprising to see the young girls adopted the change very effortlessly considering the fact their education helped them to develop during these hard times. But still a substantial amount of people in the village lack the knowledge about menstruation, and unmet needs for essential health interventions and access to sanitation. To make them aware we tried to discuss about the use of these napkins and how the cloths and other harmful materials during periods can be affecting their health. One of the most inevitable way of educating is mass education about the use of cloth and other harmful materials during periods. For which we need to show them videos, inspirational, and educational movies such as “Padman”, “Period-End of sentence” to create awareness.

We are planning to provide sanitary napkins every month to these women to bring a change so that it will be easier for them to adopt the change. The only issue was their reluctance to talk about these issues in an open environment. There was a certain hesitation in their behavior to talk about it or accept the sanitary napkins in publicly. But we believe the more they get the proper exposure to the sanitary hygiene, the more they will be accepting this situation openly.

All in all, we are content and enthusiastic about this drive and we want such events to be conducted every month. The glowing eyes of these women feeling happy, nervous and waiting to adopt a new change was quite a sight to behold.  The main motto is to create awareness among the rural women. We are gratified that they welcomed our help. We can’t thank them enough.

Also, as a matter of fact we would strongly urge collective action on the part of governments, development partners, civil society, the private sector, and academia. We ask for your voice of support and your commitment to act for girls and women everywhere.

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