Menstrual Hygiene Day
Last night, on Menstrual Hygiene Day, Sadhviji led the audience of many thousands in a hands-raised pledge to work together to ensure that all our daughters and sisters have access to education about menstruation as well as access to menstrual supplies and empowerment about being a women! She emphasized that no girl should have to drop out of school when she starts menstruating simply because she doesn’t know how to take care of herself or because her school doesn’t have toilets!
But, along with changing our perception of menstruation, we must also change the logistics and pragmatics for menstruating women and girls. An average woman spends 7 years of her life menstruating! 7 years. We must ensure those 7 years are spent in a way that is healthy, safe and empowered.
Far too many girls learn about menstruation when they start menstruating. In India it’s about 70%! Far too many stay home from school while on their periods, and in India about 23 MILLION girls drop out of school when they start menstruating, because they don’t know how to properly take care of themselves, or because they don’t have access to supplies, or because their schools don’t have toilets, or because the toilets don’t have doors….
This is the work our Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and Divine Shakti Foundation are doing, providing access to education and information as well as access to eco-friendly, sustainable menstrual pads and empowerment about being a menstruating woman!
There is a long way to go…. In India in urban areas just over 50% of women use menstrual pads which means they stay home from school and work while on their periods. But on the flip side of that 22 BILLION menstrual pads are discarded every year and end up in garbage dumps or alongside rivers and waterways. Work for menstrual health and hygiene must take place side by side with work for sustainability. That’s why I’m so excited about the eco-friendly re-usable pads the women in our vocational training centers are learning to make.