In a previous blog post, we discussed some of the Common Global Menstrual Health Challenges. As we know, there is a growing interest in menstrual health across the world. Below are some essential things to consider in the menstrual health space. If you are a social worker, NGO, governmental organisation, or even just an interested citizen here are a few points to think about:
Eliminating menstrual stigma, once and for all:
In India and across the world, we are grappling with taboos and stigmas associated with menstruation. (We have covered some of these through our series of #GlobalSuperstitions posts on Instagram). We need to be continuously educating both women and men about menstruation – that it is simply a biological process, one that is not dirty.
We need to encourage education programs, myth-busting, reaching out and ensuring those not in the know have a safe space to ask questions and be able to learn everything about menstrual health and menstrual hygiene.
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While superstitions and myths about periods do not speak for an entire country, global cultures do provide diversity in beliefs and a range of interesting practices. Some misconceptions can even get quite bizarre! While being aware of these superstitions, it is very important to know the difference between fact and fiction. Misconceptions about periods have often led to many menstruators having to face discrimination, especially with opportunities for jobs, education and respect from society. There is absolutely nothing ‘tainted’ about menstruating and nothing should stop you from living your life on your own terms. At @giveher5 we believe in making efforts towards achieving gender equality. Know more about us on www.giveher5.org . . . #giveher5 #periods #superstitions #mensturation #globalsuperstitions #myths #menstrualmatters #global #women #menstrualhealth #follow #education #taboos #girls #brazil #community #gender #health
Creating global standards and policies on safety, accessibility and affordability of all products:
Menstrual products, like all other industries, need to be governed and regulated. Quality control measures must be in place, and general rules to abide by when talking about global standards should be agreed upon. There need to be protocols in place for the retailer, distributor, NGOs giving out these products. Rules for manufacturers to stick to and instructions to the consumers on best uses to get maximum benefit must be provided. These are essential from both an economic point of view and from recycling and reusing impact on pollution and climate change.
(We recently participated in a webinar focused on menstrual health standards. We discussed the standards for reusable sanitary pads. Read about our key takeaways on our recent blog post)
Increased investment in menstrual health:
As awareness spreads on the challenges that menstruators face, more funds need to be channelled back into creating an increase in educational opportunities, more cost-effective products that can be recycled and more access to medical care for menstrual health problems. So often serious problems are overlooked just because there is no access to proper medical facilities or limited medications, amongst other reasons. Awareness also allows people to recognise when it is time to seek professional help.
Cost analysis of the impacts of poor menstrual health:
Information on the adverse effects of poor menstrual health and hygiene should be shared far and wide, to people of all backgrounds. In turn, this will enable educators to emphasise why it is essential to maintain good menstrual hygiene to have good menstrual health. For many, especially from rural or less privileged backgrounds, simplifying these explanations and providing them with easy solutions is key to mitigating period poverty.
Ensuring period- friendly toilets and infrastructure:
It is challenging to maintain good menstrual hygiene when toilets and water are not easily accessible. Reliable infrastructure has a vital role to play. In remote areas, menstruators have to travel a distance to use toilets. There is also the safety point to look at, these toilets should not be so far, that it becomes dangerous for a person to avail of a functioning toilet.
As discussed, there are numerous factors involved that need to be considered at various levels to ensure overall positive menstrual health in society. In India, up to 80% of women in India can’t afford sanitary protection, driving them to miss up to 5 days of school or work every month. There is a long road ahead of us, but if relevant authorities and passionate advocates for the cause come together, we can make a difference. Visit www.giveher5.org to get involved.