Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi will launch a menstrual hygiene campaign here on February 20.
The objective of the campaign is to create a holistic approach to issue of menstruation, which is an experience that transcends culture, class, and caste. The United Nations has recognised menstrual hygiene as a global public health and a human rights issue yet across the globe. "Period poverty" as some call it, is a reality for millions of women and girls.
The campaign called "#Yes I Bleed" will be initiated formally across all multi-media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube.
Subodh Gupta, patron of SheWings and Director of Okaya Power Company, said, "Menstruation is still a taboo subject in our country and a topic that even women are uncomfortable discussing in public.There is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a natural physiological process. In order to dispel myths surrounding menstruation and to promote menstrual hygiene awareness, the #YesIBleed campaign was conceptualized. This campaign is going to be launched formally on 20th February by Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi in the national capital."
Asked why he had to work and contribute in the area of menstrual health, Gupta said, "In India's rural areas, not only is there ignorance about menstrual hygiene, but unaffordability to buy sanitary pads is a major hindrance. The reason I decided to work in this sector was to create a truly holistic approach to menstruation through integration of ethical business practices, and culturally sensitive, life-affirming education about the menstrual experience. I saw an extraordinary opportunity to advance social transformation and ecologicalawareness through every step of our work."
He further revealed that in India, only 12 percent of the country's 355 million menstruating women can afford to avail sanitary protection.
According to a Nielsen Survey, 23 percent of adolescent Indian girls in the age group of 12-18 drop out of school once they reach puberty because of inadequate menstrual protection and a whopping 88 percent who do not have access to sanitary pads, use unsanitised cloth, husk sand, tree leaves and even ash? These can cause severe reproductive health problems and infections, and can also lead to cervical cancer.
On how he planned to execute this campaign in the short and long term, Gupta said, "Through our programmes, we intend to end the reluctance to discuss the issue and enable positive interventions. We are aiming at spreading awareness about menstrual health education to adolescents and open dialogues on menstruation all along the way. We will focus on promoting awareness, supply of inexpensive and eco-friendly sanitary pads and proper means of disposal of used products."
The menstrual hygiene awareness #YesIBleed campaign is being launched almost a fortnight after the release of the popular Akshay Kumar-Radhika Apte-Sonam Kapoor starrer "Padman", which has attempted to ingrain the issue of menstrual hygiene in the psyche of the common man.
The film has received praise from actors and directors, and even from Pakistani-born Nobel Laureate Malala Yusafzai.
Padman is based on the story of Arunachalam Muruganatham, who, on realizing how women are affected during their menses, sets out to create a sanitary pad machine and to provide inexpensive sanitary pads to the women of rural India.
Twinkle Khanna, the producer of the film, said "PadMan is not just a film, it's a movement. I hope now women will not be held back or embarrassed by their biology."
Radhika Apte, who plays the role of a village girl Gayatri in Padman, asks, "Daughters are told about periods by their mothers, why can't fathers talk about it"? She says it is high time that people understand that menstrual hygiene is of utmost importance.