This Menstrual Hygiene Day, we aim to create a mini carnival juxtaposed with bringing conversation on menstruation literally to the public; an attempt to normalize the dialogue around it.
Aligning our goals with Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) , organized by WASH United multiple activities have been planned for the day:
1. Film Screening
2. Interactive Awareness Sessions
3. Street Play
4. Talk show
5. Demonstration of various innovative menstrual hygiene products
Film Screening: Nirman Foundation has developed a second short film, “Break the Silence”, in both English & Bengal. The 5 minutes long film addresses the various barriers young girls have to face and the need to break away the myths and taboos that shrouds menstruation. The film will be publicly screened for the first time.
Interactive awareness sessions: The Kaokatha Natyo Goshthi (Govt. Regn.No. S/1L/58157) is a theatre group working towards a social change besides performing regular shows on the proscenium. Through interactive games and theatrical exercises, Kaokatha will be engaging the public in dialogue around MHM and thereby generate awareness.
Street Play: Dramatically Correct is a three and a half-year-old theatre troupe that has always tried to re-invent and re-define the art of theatre through its perseverance and novelty in thought. They are going to conduct a social experiment and perform a 15 min long street play.
Talk Show: Experts in the fields have been invited to briefly share their thoughts and experiences in the field of MHM. Few of the individuals and organizations, who are scheduled to take part are Mr. Johnson Jeyaseelan (WASH Officer, UNICEF), Sahana Nag (Counselor and Guest Faculty, CCSSS, Jadavpur), representatives from Anahat and Maitri.
Demonstration of various menstrual hygiene products: The platform can be used to bring together and exhibit the various products that are now made available to ensure MHM is accessible and can move towards sustainable MHM. Anahat will keep their cloth pads for demonstration and Maitri will keep low-cost sanitary pads for free pickups.
Why the need?
Masik or period – an intimate, integral part of the day to day being, for women – has been shaped into a phenomenon that metes out socio-cultural restrictions, shame, and discomfort for many women around the world. The narratives around period continue to be silenced, unacknowledged, and stigmatized. The onset of menarche becomes a life-changing event for adolescent girls. The significance of which touches all aspects of human life; it dictates lived experiences of those young women, beyond just the days they bleed. It influences their quality of life to a great extent. It is time to establish that menstrual health is not only women’s issue; it is a public health issue. It is a normal involuntary biological process for which women have to face social discrimination, humiliation and abide by norms and ritual which in many cases affect their well-being. There is a glaring need to educate, support and empower adolescent young girls and ensure that their experiences with menstrual health and hygiene do not become a deterrent in realizing their aspirations and becoming full citizens. This can only be addressed when the community at large is sensitized and engaged in the cause.
In 2019 we are fortunate enough to have literature and resources on menstrual health and hygiene, on sexuality and gender and rights of women. There has been a global rise in working with menstruation as a cause. In India, we can see the development sector, the public sector as well as commercial sectors including the film industries engaging in efforts to normalize menstruation and shed the social evils associated with it. The highest point of this tidal wave around menstruation has possibly been personified by “Period. End of Sentence” winning the Oscar in 2019. Globally we have moved far ahead in time, and discourses are being created around gender fluidity, right to pleasure and ownership of the female body, to say the least. However, a massive population remains in a space where the concept of claiming the right to your own body is blasphemous. Lives of women are still entrenched in religious, socio-political, cultural and moral norms, impacting their health, wellbeing and civil rights.
No amount of efforts put in towards normalizing menstruation or establishing effective menstrual hygiene management in place will be sufficient to bridge the care gap that exists. Nirman Foundation will continue to work towards the cause and contribute to building an inclusive society.