Menstruation is basic human physiology in a female where the uterus sheds its inner lining once every 28days and expels it through the genital orifice. It is as basic as it is subject to stigma,unhealthy practices and ignorance, unfortunately.
28th May is World Menstrual Hygiene day.The theme for World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2020 is “Periods in Pandemic”, this is to highlight how the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has added to the already extensive list of challenges faced by women during her periods.
The pandemic has displaced millions of women, sanitation and hygiene has taken a toss, and with the rise of unemployment or lack of earning a livelihood,menstrual hygiene products will definitely become a luxury only a few can afford.
Period crisis may be faced by all, from the frontline women workers who are serving the population round the clock to the women who are locked inside their homes. The crisis may include
- Lack of access to menstrual hygiene products
- Lack of sanitation infrastructure like clean washrooms, clean water source, proper disposal areas.
- Social stigmatisation and apathy
- Economic constraints
Let’s talk about some basic period problems with special emphasis on what Covid-19 pandemic has brought down upon us:
- Menstruation is normal biology and menstrual hygiene products are essential items
Access to sanitary pad, tampon, soaps, etc are basic and essential, as basic as access to food and medicines.That these items remain available should be ensured by the concerned authorities. No matter how overburdened the finances are, the family and the individual must ensure that these products remain in the priority list
In case of severe constraints, one can opt for simpler, cost effective alternatives like
• clean cotton cloth piece
• homemade sanitary reusable pads
But again,proper disposal, proper cleaning remains a concern.
A cloth must be discarded after single use of not more than 8hours and if not, then should be washed with clean water and soap, sundried and stored in a clean and dry place away from contamination.
- People in Health Care facilities and quarantine centres should have easy access to menstrual hygiene products
Patients in quarantine centre’s, in hospitals, returning back to their native places by buses and trains should have access to menstrual hygiene products. Clean toilets, access to clean water in bus stations, train stations, quarantine centre’s and hospitals are also must.
- Health workers, frontline workers , need menstrual health supplies
The vast majority of frontline workers working under immense pressure in the Covid pandemic belong to the gender that menstruates. Ensuring that they get access to menstrual hygiene products is of utmost importance.
- No compromise in terms of hygiene
Economic disruptions, social malpractices, health and education infrastructure disruption in this case pandemic act as hurdles for the already vulnerable menstruating population. These need to be avoided and shunned in order to ensure that menstruation remains a smooth and normal process. Stigmas such as menses make a person untouchable, menstruating women can pollute water sources and toilets, should not enter kitchen, should not bath are false notions and lead to exclusion and vulnerability.
- Availability of reliable sources of information
Lockdown has unleashed sanitary pad crisis in our country. Hence it is of utmost importance that self-help groups,NGOs, media, government come up with reliable sources of information on how to opt for hygienic home made, affordable and cost effective menstrual hygiene products.
Education regarding some basic practices should also be provided, like:
• frequent hand washing during the pandemic
• cleaning the genital area with plain water or water and soap
•taking baths everyday during periods
• disposing the used products in a hygienic method
• taking healthy, nutritious food.
• avoiding unnecessary stressing out and seeking help in case of stress during periods
Menstrual hygiene is a basic right and let’s work towards ensuring that every menstruating women gets access to menstrual health, dignity and hygiene.