Menstruation is a natural process but, “Shush, don’t mention it!”, say the aunts and uncles in our neighbourhood.
Yet, here we are, the VOICE 4 Girls team, who have reached out to more than one lakh adolescents who now know more about menstruation. They are enthusiastically making the unsayable, sayable in their families and communities.
But is that enough?
You must have heard about sustainable development. Sustainable menstruation is an integral part of the same. As you may have wondered at some point, where do the tonnes of soiled sanitary pads go? Are they buried, incinerated, or flushed down toilets? Rather not think of the smoke and the smells now, shall we?
But we should.
Considering the increasing number of sanitary pads being produced right now, yes, we should think of it as they simply cannot be decomposed and dumping them in the oceans is a definite no-no.
But there is one more reason why we should think of these pads.
The number of women who could afford sanitary pads in India was 12% of the female population in the 2010s. Though this percentage is slowly rising, most women in India still cannot afford sanitary pads and are forced to adjust with cloth pads. Improper or unhygienic usage of either can cause infections and even cancer. But who will talk about proper menstrual hygiene when menstruation itself is taboo? (Remember the hushed tones at your local grocer’s for a packet of Stayfree or Always or what have you?)
And so we, at VOICE, thought we should step in and do our bit. Having set our aims at empowering young girls, menstruation has organically been a part of our curriculum, from the physiological process to hygiene practices. We have also consciously incorporated sustainability as well. We make our campers aware of the alternatives they can shift to if they choose to do so and thus contribute to reducing non biodegradable waste while maintaining proper menstrual hygiene affordably.
Our workshops, which began a few years ago in the cities, are driving conversations around sustainable alternatives to menstrual hygiene products such as reusable cloth pads and menstrual cups. Adding to this, last month, VOICE 4 Girls was awarded the ‘Best NGO in Menstrual Hygiene’ title at the Global NGO Expo 2021. But our work does not end here, there are ever more adolescents and adults to reach out to. Now, will you be doing your part as well?