Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi will launch a menstrual hygiene campaign in New Delhi on February 20.
The objective of the campaign is to create a holistic approach to the issue of menstruation, which is an experience that transcends culture, class, and caste. The United Nations has recognised menstrual hygiene as a global public health and a human rights issue yet across the globe. "Period poverty" as some call it, is a reality for millions of women and girls.
The campaign called "#YesIBleed" will be initiated formally across all multi-media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube.
Subodh Gupta, patron of SheWings and director of Okaya Power Company, said, "Menstruation is still a taboo subject in our country and a topic that even women are uncomfortable discussing in public. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a natural physiological process. In order to dispel myths surrounding menstruation and to promote menstrual hygiene awareness, #YesIBleed campaign was conceptualised. This campaign is going to be launched formally on 20th February by Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi in the national capital."
Asked why he had to work and contribute in the area of menstrual health, Gupta said, "In India's rural areas, not only is there ignorance about menstrual hygiene, but unaffordability to buy sanitary pads is a major hindrance. The reason I decided to work in this sector was to create a truly holistic approach to menstruation through integration of ethical business practices, and culturally sensitive, life-affirming education about the menstrual experience. I saw an extraordinary opportunity to advance social transformation and ecologicalawareness through every step of our work."
He further revealed that in India, only 12 per cent of the country's 355 million menstruating women can afford to avail sanitary protection.
According to a Nielsen Survey, 23 per cent of adolescent Indian girls in the age group of 12-18 drop out of school once they reach puberty because of inadequate menstrual protection and a whopping 88 per cent who do not have access to sanitary pads, use unsanitised cloth, husk sand, tree leaves and even ash? These can cause severe reproductive health problems and infections, and can also lead to cervical cancer.
On how he planned to execute this campaign in the short and long term, Gupta said, "Through our programmes, we intend to end the reluctance to discuss the issue and enable positive interventions. We are aiming at spreading awareness about menstrual health education to adolescents and open dialogues on menstruation all along the way. We will focus on promoting awareness, supply of inexpensive and eco-friendly sanitary pads and proper means of disposal of used products."