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.