Sustainability and Women Sustainable Menstruation

An IIM-Indore Grad, Shatakshi is a published writer, awarded twice by the President of India. She tries keeping it humble though and is always ready to discuss ideas!

When it comes to women, the number of issues which we can probably discuss ti improve the overall situation are close to endless! Needless to say that a lot of them such as gender equality, sustainable menstruation, workplace improvement etc have been included in United Nations Sustainable Development Goals too.

One may say, that incorporating the problems of just one gender into the UN-SDG might be a bit far fetched. It may also be said that the same has been done to tide the wave of being responsible in the times of #MeToo and other movements. Well, we cannot and will not argue on that because that will take the focus away from the more important points. 

In this blog, we will aim to address the problems which the women of this world face in general. In addition to this, we will also talk about how women play an important role in the development of a nation and if the UN is serious about achieving its SDGs then the same will have to be done through women empowerment only!

The Problem and Some Stats

It is not uncommon to come across women who have not used pads at all. Some of them do not even know about the existence of pads. Move a little towards the economically lower strata of the society and we will have people looking at menstruation as some kind of sin. The same holds true for almost all the villages or sub-urban sections of the society. 

This will be more evident from the fact that of the 336 million menstruating women in India, hardly 36% use a sanitary napkin. While some of the remaining use cotton cloth, the others, simply bleed on their days, tucked away in the balcony or a dingy corner of the house. 

Not surprising that 70% of the girls are unaware of the concept of menstruation in the first place. Over 40,000 cervical cancer caused due to poor menstrual hygiene happen each year in the country while 120 million of the menstruating girls experience menstrual dysfunction.

A Look at our Reactions

All of this looks like some easy stat for us! After all, we are the elites who know all and some of us even complain about how unhealthy pads are for the environment and that bleeding has no shame! Some of us even clap for the women who run marathons without pads! Moreover, we are completely comfortable with questioning the Government over not making pads tax free! We, the ones who splurge so much on shopping and makeup find a barely twenty rupees worth of tax problematic!

Shame on us seriously for not addressing the actual issue and making it a typical first world problem for the elites like us. Arunachalam Muruganantham’s story of struggles should be an eye-opener for us but we mostly choose to ignore it!

What we can do

  • Not much, just make sure that you visit the schools close to your place and have a word with the girls about menstrual hygiene
  • We can buy them pads too! Or simply tell them how to make a makeshift one from cotton and gauge! 
  • Telling them about how using clothes at such time can significantly damage their reproductive system can be a wake-up call
  • We can also talk to their mothers and make them understand the situation too!
  • If all this sounds too much of work, having a word with your maid only will make a great difference
  • Finally, if you are really worried about the eco-friendly bit of the pads, why not start with yourself and start using the ones

How Does this help with Sustainability?

Well, everything about sustainability involves the development and equal opportunities for all to improve upon their lifestyle. By making sure that every single menstruating woman has accessibility to sanitary napkins or pads will be the first major step.

The Government has already started providing for subsidised pads to the underprivileged. Movies are being made to spread awareness on the same too.

Though all these steps are worth appreciation, yet we have a long way to go.

Now comes the eco-friendly bit of it. There are multiple companies which have started making eco-friendly pads. They are a bit on the higher end so I am not sure how receptive would the normal audience be. However, elites and celebrities can definitely pave the way towards spreading awareness.

I am sure that given how this generation hogs on everything that their favourite celebrities endorse, eco-friendly pads will find an audience soon!

Moreover, if we are in some way able to reduce the deaths that are caused due to menstrual hygiene or the lack thereof, we will be able to produce a more healthy individual. One can say that the infant mortality rate, the problem of malnutrition or even the basic exposure of men towards the softer side of life are all related to women.

A good mother teaches the right values to their kids, at least they teach some values. But a non-existent mother- well that is when the child picks ups the values of convenience!

All said and done, Sustainable menstruation has a long way to go in the Indian context or for that matter even for the world. But doesn’t the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step?

So, bye for now and see you again with another story in the Sustainability and Women section. The next will be on Gender Equality!

(The Views expressed by the author are personal and do not necessarily reflect the position of the organisation Buzz on Earth)