Where there are poor menstrual hygiene practices impact the dignity and self-esteem of women and adolescent girls, which has an extensive impact on their healthy growth and psychological development. Every developing country must have a streamlined menstrual hygiene management system which can directly affect the country’s health, education, and economic empowerment of women and girls. In the earlier days, due to conservative beliefs, the condition of menstrual hygiene in India was poor, which led to various infections, reproductive health issues, and social stigma.
It has been one of the primary reasons why girls miss school or drop out entirely. The lack of adequate menstrual hygiene facilities and infrastructure was stark, and people could not afford menstrual products. However, with much advancement in the educational system and growing awareness, Indian society is slowly and surely reviving that dark and rigid mentality.
As a developing country, India considers its women ratio in the population as a force of power and human resource and does not want poor menstrual hygiene practices to perpetuate the cycle of poverty and limit opportunities for women and girls. After independence, India has been promoting many programs for menstrual hygiene management to improve the health and well-being of its citizens, which is essential for the country’s sustainable development goals.
How is India making progress toward addressing menstrual hygiene issues?
The government of India has implemented several initiatives like the Menstrual Hygiene Scheme, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, and collaboration with various non-governmental organisations to promote menstrual hygiene awareness and education. India is not only making temporary solutions by providing free sanitary napkins to girls in rural areas, providing low-cost sanitary products, etc. but also focusing on establishing menstrual hygiene management facilities in schools and public places.
Many efforts have been made on regional, national, and global levels to break the silence and stigma surrounding menstruation, resulting in a shift in attitude towards this previously taboo topic. Although there is still a long way to go for India to demonstrate its successful menstrual hygiene management in the face of the world, you can take a look at all the programs the country is currently working on to progress towards improving public health.
UNICEF collaborative programs
UNICEF has made many collaborative approaches with India to make the developing country more forward with its growing awareness of gender inequality, women’s health, and the need for women’s empowerment. Menstrual Hygiene in India is part of it all. UNICEF is participating in many state-level menstrual hygiene management programs to help the country improve women’s and adolescent girls’ health, nutritional status, and overall well-being.
UNICEF works with partners to provide training in the management of menstruation health in order to help girls, women, and community members overcome unhealthy behaviours and school retention and provide them with the necessary knowledge. Some of the notable projects are MAHIMA in Jharkhand, GARIMA in Uttar Pradesh, Women’s Self-Help Group in Gujarat, etc. All these MHM interventions empowered women and girls to promote menstrual health practice awareness and break myths surrounding menstruation.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan menstrual hygiene management framework
As an integral part of the Swachh Bharat Mission Guidelines, menstrual hygiene management is issued by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. The guideline and framework outline what the state governments, district administrations, engineers, and technical experts in the line departments are expected to do to improve the condition of menstrual hygiene in India.
An effective MHM involves proper access to knowledge and information, safe menstrual absorbents, water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure, and proper disposal of used menstrual absorbents. Under the Mission, many campaigns encourage the construction of separate toilets for girls in school, which includes facilities for menstrual hygiene management and the adoption of healthy menstrual hygiene practices.
Menstrual Hygiene Scheme
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched the Menstrual Hygiene Scheme to promote menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls in the age group of 10 to 19 in rural areas. The key objective of this scheme is to increase access to high-quality sanitary napkins for adolescent girls in rural areas. Moreover, it also focuses on making safe disposal of sanitary napkins in a sustainable manner.
Apart from this, there are many community-based menstrual hygiene programs that are actively running to address issues regarding menstrual hygiene in India. All the initiatives founded on basic principles, i.e., access, awareness, and acceptance of the MHM efforts, are made with aims to ensure menstrual hygiene for all people through local strategies.
India has made significant progress in addressing menstrual hygiene issues in recent years, with the implementation of various government initiatives and the efforts of non-governmental organisations. Thanks to all the above-mentioned programs in action, both urban and rural areas of the country are aligning with aspects of maintaining proper menstrual hygiene. Additionally, the campaigns and education programs have raised awareness about the importance of menstrual hygiene and help reduce the stigma surrounding menstruation.