Menstrual hygiene is important to ensure that we empower women and  girls  and includes access to safe sanitation and clean water as much  as an atmosphere of dignity.

But several patriarchal notions have dampened our efforts to improve  the health of girls and women, and have muted attempts to quell stigma  and discrimination.

The COVID-19 lockdown deepened many of these problems and created  others when it restricted the mobility and decision-making power of  menstruating individuals.

May 28 is Menstrual Hygiene Day, and it is fitting that we reflect  on the progress we have made, the progress we have lost, the challenges  ahead of us and our responsibilities.

Discrimination against menstruating women is widespread in India, where periods have long been taboo and considered ‘impure’.

Menstruating individuals are often excluded from social and religious  events, denied entry into temples and shrines, and even kept out of  kitchens in houses.

Menstrual hygiene products are heavily  taxed, placing them out of reach of a large fraction of the population.

Safe and sustainable alternatives like biodegradable pads and menstrual cups are becoming increasingly visible in the market.

But they are currently limited to the urban and economically sound  strata because of either their prices or awareness of their existence.