Just think about it – a time when ISRO, in a mission to celebrate ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, sends a satellite built by 750 girls from across the nation, many of our adolescent girls still miss out schools during their periods and even hesitate to talk openly about menstrual health and hygiene!
A quick look at the existing data suggests that more than half (52 percent) of adolescent girls are unaware of menstruation until they get it themselves, and one out of every four girls between 15-19 years do not practice proper menstrual hygiene.
A society where girls equally participate with their male counterparts in almost every sphere of life and work, discrimination against menstruating young women is still rampant in India, with periods having been considered a taboo and associated with impurity. So much so, that since the puberty sets in, girls are socially programmed to live with the pain and fear, and are seldom allowed to seek help when in acute physical or mental discomfort due to periods – thanks to the aura of embarrassment that shrouds the topic.
To bust this narrative, to shun the culture of silence and help young girls fight ‘Period Shaming’, CRY – Child Rights and You has launched a pan-India campaign #Let’s Talk About It! Period! – to address taboos around periods and help them understand menstruation better, so that they do not feel ashamed or embarrassed of bleeding, which is a but a natural physiological phenomenon.
Elaborating on the objective of the campaign, Puja Marwaha, CRO, CRY said, “Through this initiative, we aim to encourage adolescent girls to openly talk about periods as a normal body function instead of a topic that incites shame and embarrassment; address myths and taboos related to menstruation and shed light on the facts; and inspire a circle of support for adolescent girls including their family members, male peers, teachers and community allies.”
“Historically, the culture of silence and the social stigma attached to periods have been fueled by the patriarchal narrative deeply ingrained in our culture and social norms, and is fed by girls’ lack of knowledge around menstruation. It is absolutely crucial to demystify myths and raise awareness on menstruation to help young girls especially in underprivileged communities break away from the age old shackles of period shaming so that they can solely focus on taking care of their health, access menstrual hygiene with freedom and live with dignity, Puja said.
Though the primary target group of the three month-long campaign are girls within the age group of 10-17 years, the secondary audience includes adolescent boys, family members and the community members. The campaign will culminate on the International Girl Child Day (11th October, 2022).
As part of the campaign, CRY would also conduct a survey among girls within its intervention areas – to assess their levels of understanding, knowledge, attitude, and practice when it comes to managing menstrual health and hygiene, and to assess the myths, misconceptions and restrictions practiced by girls during menstruation. The survey will be conducted among 4000+ respondents across the rural and urban intervention areas in eight states, namely West Bengal, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh.
The campaign aims to have a 360-degree communication approach, with clear-cut messaging across social media and offline platforms, thus highlighting gaps and celebrating the champions who are leading the battle to bust the myths and social taboos related to periods.
The campaign further aims at building capacity of all concerned stakeholders on adolescent hygiene and management of MHH. Other advocacy initiatives under the campaign will include:
- Incorporating/Institutionalizing components related to best practices of adolescent health and hygiene into monthly VHSNDs, and developing in-depth understanding of the gaps for larger advocacy.
- Advocacy at the Panchayat (in the rural contexts) and Ward (in the urban set ups) levels towards ensuring functionality of toilets and availability of water.
- Advocacy with the concerned stakeholders (e.g. the Department of Health and others) towards free distribution and seamless access of sanitary products, both at the state and the union level and raising voice for adequate public provisioning towards the same.
To know more about the campaign and to sign the pledge, please visit https://www.cry.org/lets-talk-about-periods/?utm_source=social&utm_content=period-shame-sm