India has around 355 million menstruating women and girls who face multilayered barriers to effective Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) because of various social and economic elements. Out of all the menstruating girls and ladies in India, only 20% use sanitary pads. Even in urban areas, this only rises to about 50%. Our efforts at Himalayan hemp are instrumental in increasing this number to 100%. Menstruation, also referred to as periods is a natural phenomenon that each one woman undergoes but unfortunately, poverty and lack of awareness come in the way of enabling women and girls to realize their full potential.
The barriers to adopting menstrual hygiene practices are three-crease: a lack of awareness, a lack of acceptance, and a lack of access.
A lack of awareness results in girls having no prior information about periods before they experience them for the first time. Studies indicate that 71% of adolescent girls remain unaware of menstruation until their first cycle. Due to this lack of awareness, menstruation is taken into account dirty and hence attracts many false practices, and women have always been subject to gender inequality as well as health ailments.
A lack of acceptance leads to the term period being negative for women, related to fear, anxiety, and embarrassment.
Menstruation in our country is related to various myths and restrictions resulting in a lack of awareness among adolescent girls. According to a study conducted on menstruating girls:
77% of girls stated restrictions on visiting places of worship and touching religious items or praying during menstruation.
About 24% got to sit separately from household members during their period cycle.
Girls faced restrictions in going out, exercising, cooking, among many others.
Many have to skip school and offices because of fear of public shaming and discomfort.
Many girls are even forced to drop out of school early.
Studies have shown that over 70 percent of Indian mothers consider menstruation to be "dirty" and "disgusting" then, their daughters recoil from discussing this. In India menstruation is considered a taboo topic with nobody willing to discuss it openly and people use code words to explain various aspects related to periods. Women themselves would call them “difficult days”, “tough days”, “those days” rather than saying the word ‘periods’. This has led to knowledge gaps among young girls as well as boys. Young girls have a lack of knowledge about something that will be a part of their lives for nearly another four decades. ‘Why?’ you ask.
A lack of access to quality hygiene products continues to be a hurdle to achieving 100% coverage for menstrual hygiene. Studies indicate that the majority of girls don’t have always access to good-quality menstrual hygiene products with 88% of women and girls in India using homemade alternatives, like old cloth, rags, hay, sand, or ash. When women don’t have access to proper sanitation and hygiene facilities, it creates a higher risk for contagion for any communicable disease. Common outcomes of unhealthy menstruation management are often dermatitis, urinary tract infections (UTIs), which may be fatal if the kidney is damaged, genital tract infection, alteration within the pH balance of vaginal secretions, bacterial vaginosis, all resulting in increased susceptibility to cervical cancer. These infections also tend to impact women the foremost when they’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
Below-mentioned products are good options, but unless these are of excellent quality, affordable and their safe disposal is ensured, none of them is best than the other:
Menstrual cups are hygiene products that are non-toxic, reusable, and environmentally friendly for collecting menstrual fluidand have been growing in popularity in recent years. Menstrual cups are made from medical-grade silicone that goes inside the vagina.
Tampons also are a hygiene product that absorbs menstrual fluid. They are also inserted into the vagina and therefore the disadvantage of using this is often that it absorbs liquid body substance alongside the blood.
Regular pads: The sanitary pad which has a plastic sheet below effectively absorbs blood during menstruation. Wearing it for long hours can cause irritation, rash, bad odor, redness, swelling, etc.
Now enters the sustainable option for all the women as Himalayan Hemp reusable sanitary pads which are 100% organic.
Know more about our Himalayan hemp sanitary pad- https://www.himalayanhemp.in/hempsanitarypads
The menstrual products are accessible within the market but the awareness about them remains lacking, and then there is another factor of mass unaffordability and attached social norms. For women who belong to the marginalized sections, menstrual products are hardly accessible. There is a requirement to advocate for better menstrual health for each woman especially of marginalised. Initiatives to cause change at the ecosystem level affecting better health and hygiene for all. Following the assumption that women have the right to choose for their health, facilities to supply information, and access to good quality and affordable products like reusable pads are essential. As a part of gender sanitation task, building capacities of women to take care of cleanliness and hygiene, helping them break taboos against menstruation and menstruating women, understanding the various myths and misinterpretation, including information on menstrual hygiene products including sanitary napkins, cloth sanitary pads, and even clean sun-dried cotton cloth supported their comfort and availability to those options is vital.
Menstrual health is going to be achieved not only through smart and safe products, but the shift in attitudes and behaviour towards better hygiene is additionally much needed that we work on social norms and patriarchal systems.
How can we put an end to these barriers to make sure that each one girl and women have access to menstrual hygiene? Let's not forget the foremost basic thing, though. Cultivation of menstrual awareness commences at home.
We at Himalayan Hemp appeal to all the educated women to educate at least 5 uneducated or working-class women who you see every day.
Ø They can be your maids, domestic workers, janitors, office cleaning crew, your society guard, the lady who comes to clean garbage, etc. anyone who you can easily reach out to.
Ø You need to make them understand the need and methods to maintain their menstrual hygiene.
Ø Tell them that menstrual hygiene is a necessity, not a luxury. Make them aware of the sanitary products and how to use them.
Here are few menstrual hygiene habits you can educate those 5 ladies around you. Tell them to:
Take a bath at least once a day.
Wash their private area with plain water (no soap) after each use of the toilet and even after urination.
Change sanitary pad regularly during their period after at least every four hours. When these are not changed often enough, bacteria build up causing a bad smell, uneasiness, and skin irritations.
It is important to dispose of your pad correctly. Wrap them completely so that microbes can’t be spread.
Never flush a pad in the toilet, as it may clog the flush and making the bacteria spread. Wash your hands before and after the change with soap and even after discarding.
Encourage them to speak up about these things openly. This will not only make them aware of menstrual hygiene but will also encourage them to speak up about anything that is bothering them in society. Let’s not forget if you educate a woman, you educate a nation. What do you expect from this appeal? Do you think women will embrace their cycles more rather than avoiding them? That's absolutely our endeavour!"
To provide a healthy and eco-friendly alternative is an extremely important concern for us at Himalayan Hemp. We can reduce our carbon footprint and move over to more sustainable options such as our new sanitary pad made of Hemp fibre. Himalayan Hemp sanitary pads are reusable, eco-friendly, UV-resistant, rash resistant, anti-inflammatory, and biodegradable. Hemp has a lower carbon footprint compared to cotton or bamboo. We want you to give a try to this more sustainable product.
You may all know Menstrual Hygiene day is observed on May 28th every year. But do you know May 28 has symbolic meaning? Well, it’s because May is the 5th month of the year and women bleed an average of 5 days every month. Also, the menstrual cycle averages 28 days. The day serves as a reminder that millions of girls around the world still struggle with basic hygiene every month. The day aims at raising awareness about Menstrual Hygiene and also helps curb umpteen taboos related to menstruation. Ourmission at Himalayan Hemp is to possess a world where all the women and girls have access to sanitary conditions and materials required for healthy menses.
The mission to spread awareness about menstruation has been on everyone's checklist lately. The entertainment and media industry has always influenced society and may be a catalyst in the adoption of menstrual hygiene in the country. It came out with Padman, casting mainstream actors like Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte, and Sonam Kapoor during a film supported real-world hero Arunachalam Muruganantham, inventor of low-cost sanitary pad-making machines.
Clearly, the message has been received intense and clear. Not fully understood, or accepted. But expressed, definitely! But where do we go from here?
First of all, women themselves got to be made conscious of the importance of menstrual hygiene and the way to take care of it. We also care about the people - the marginal community, and more importantly women. Now it’s time for the action. We would like all the women to educate the uneducated women and share their experience within the sort of a little message, a letter, or a video of them talking about menstruation. Just use the hash tag #himalayanhemp so we don’t miss it and that we will love to share it in our Instagram stories to encourage women to talk on this subject more out of hesitation. By raising awareness on Menstrual Hygiene, not only we can contribute to the breaking down of harmful norms and taboos, we can create stronger, a gender-sensitive issue that empowers women and girls to realize their full potential.