Menstrual hygiene in India is one of the major matter of debate. Furthermore, a large amount of research has shown that lack of hygiene and infrastructure lead girls to drop out schools in rural areas of India. According to Darsa, 23 million girls drop out of school annually due to lack of proper menstrual hygiene management facilities, which include availability of sanitary napkins and logical awareness of menstruation. Taboos related to periods is the second reason involving young girls from villages to stay at home. Hence, we can assume two points regarding education in India:
- There is a huge difference between genders about life opportunities, due to cultural and infra structural reasons;
- There is a significant difference between the urban lifestyle and the rural one.
Indeed, in Indian cities it is absolutely common to buy napkins in stores. On the other hand, in Indian villages you will not find them at all. Furthermore, it is also difficult to get drinking water.According to the National Family Health Survey report published in December 2017, in India only 58% of women between 15 and 24 years old use a hygienic method of menstrual protection. Also, according to the WASH study carried out by Reproductivetractinfections (RTIs)between 2013 and 2014, “self-reported symptoms of RTI disease were less common in girls and women with access to a latrine (vs open defecation) and lower walking times to a bathing location.” In short, in rural villages hygiene is widely poor.
At the same time, it is well known that the 10 world’s fastest growing cities are Indian. According to the Global Cities Report 2018 by the institute Oxford Economics: Surat; Agra; Bengaluru; Hyderabad; Nagpur; Tiruppur; Rajkot; Tiruchirappalli; Chennai and Vijayawada. As a result, is quite clear the huge economic (and cultural) gap that stands between modern cities and rural villages.
Therefore, what can we do in practice in order to bring menstrual hygiene equality? NGOs’ work seems to be the main way to truly obtain an improvement in social-welfare, hygiene and knowledge about healthcare and taboos constraints.
Since 2010 Heeals is strongly concerned in programmes with villages and rural communities about Wash; Menstrual Hygiene and Health. We belief that education about health care is a priority and because of that we are always working hard on our workshops and new programmes. For instance, the aim of our “Pads for Girls” project is to improve local hygene conditions and economy in Western Uttar Pradesh: we want to buy a sanitary napkins machine and bring it in the village. We deeply believe that this project could improve the local economy, selling napkins especially in local markets. Also, it will be certainly the only way for village women to get sanitary napkins.