May 28 2014

Breaking Taboos about Women’s Health

The first Global Menstrual Hygiene Day is being celebrated today around the world. The objective is to break the silence around menstruation and raise awareness about the fundamental role that menstrual hygiene management plays in protecting women and girls’ health and helping them reach their full potential.

medicalcamp lineupThe majority of Karuna-Shechen medical patients are women and we pay particular attention to their personal health and hygiene. In June 2013, we launched a new Menstrual Health and Hygiene program in India.

Menstruation is a normal biological process and a key sign of reproductive health, yet in many cultures it is treated as something negative, shameful and dirty.  A study from Unicef revealed that 10% of girls in India believe that menstruation is a disease. Many women have very little knowledge about what is happening to their bodies.  Limited access to information, as well as cultural taboos and social stigmas attached to menstruation have a negative impact on the lives and health of millions of girls and women.

It is estimated that approximately 70% of all reproductive diseases in India are caused by poor menstrual hygiene. Poor access to affordable and hygienic sanitary material and disposal options leave many women to manage their periods in ineffective, uncomfortable and unhygienic ways. These problems are further exacerbated by insufficient access to safe and private toilets and lack of clean water and soap for personal hygiene.

Furthermore, many girls and women miss school and work every month due to menstruation, causing them to miss out on life opportunities and preventing them from reaching their full potential. In rural Nepal, for example, many families observe the tradition of “chhaupadi” wherein menstruating women and girls are isolated into separate huts or cowsheds.

Sanitary Pads

Villagers holding subsidized sanitary pads

 

Through our Menstrual Health and Hygiene project, we distribute subsidized sanitary pads to rural women and girls who would not be able to afford them at a regular price. We also raise awareness about the importance good menstrual practices in our 18 partner villages.

 

This program has already helped improving the lives, personal hygiene and consequently the health of hundreds of poor women and girls in the Gaya district.

To learn more about this project: Women’s Health in India

To learn more about Global Menstrual Hygiene Day