The Indian society has always been ‘hush-hush’ about menstrual hygiene and sexual topics and has shied away from making children aware which makes them vulnerable. It is important to educate people about things that happen in the human body like menstruation in girls. The World Menstrual Hygiene Day, an initiative taken by the German based NGO WASH United in 2014. It is celebrated annually on the 28th of May aiming to break those awkward silences and taboos about menstruation and raising awareness about the importance of menstrual hygiene management.
The initiative for Menstrual Hygiene Day has received the support of over 270 global partners who are committed to making good menstrual health and hygiene a priority worldwide. The day complements other important days of the year in relationship to sanitation and hygiene, such as 15 October for Global Handwashing Day or 19 November for World Toilet Day. May 28 was chosen for its symbolism since May is the 5th month of the year and most women average 5 days every month and their cycle is approximately 28 days. The thought of celebrating such a day came up when researchers found out that 42% of women knew nothing about sanitary napkins and hygiene methods. Worldwide, one in three women does not have access to a working toilet. Menstrual hygiene management issues have been ignored by professionals in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector and in the health and education sectors, too.
This day is recognized globally since 2014 and every year the campaigns get bigger and better. The whole world is working towards the awareness now. There are currently 410 official partners. These include international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as Plan International, SNV, Plan, Water for People, Women in Europe for a Common Future. Further partners are many national and regional NGOs as well as suppliers of menstrual hygiene products, washable menstrual pads and menstrual cups.
Though the awareness programs in bits and pieces had started from the year 2012 itself but the day was finally globally recognised in 2014. In 2015 the ‘Lets end the hesitation around menstruation’ took the campaigns and awareness to another level with 33 countries organising 127 events. From sanitation facilities in schools to education on health and psycho-social aspects to availability of sanitary materials, this day aims to touch every subject related to this and make girls & women menstruate without any shame or disgust. This platform brings together individuals and organisations from all over the world to create a tremor and strong voice for the women in the world with the help of media of all kinds. Social platforms are the best way to communicate in a world so digital and on this day, they are flooded with campaigns hitting it hard.
The awareness also brought a lot of women in India together to push back on the proposed GST on sanitary napkins which was clubbed as a ‘luxury’ product!
Sometimes, its important to make a big deal of something to get people sit up and notice. Especially about something that half the population has to face every month. This celebration and awareness not only helps the women of the world but also helps the men of the world to help the women not feel like an outcaste while they bleed without violence. A campaign said rightly, “it’s the superwoman week”.
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