Action Lab 2050 begins its journey to break free of menstrual hygiene stereotypes in India

Bhubaneswar : The 4th National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) 2015-2016 estimates that, of the 336 million menstruating women in India, only 36% (121 million) women and girls use sanitary napkins, locally or commercially produced. Moreover, there is a significant divide in the use of products between rural and urban areas. 71% of girls in India report having no knowledge of menstruation before their first period.

Action Lab 2050 (AL50), a social enterprise born out of a vision to make a difference to women aims to create an environment in which every woman and girl can exercise her human rights and live up to her full potential. With its technical knowhow & operational capabilities, AL50 strives to scout, funnel & build a set of capable stakeholders in the eco-system for the broader motive of creating a conducive environment for every woman to realize her true worth. AL50 was launched today through a virtual conference in the presence of several eminent speakers that included Mr. Basanta Kumar, Country Director, Project Concern International, Ms. Sneha Mishra, Secretary, Aaina, Ms Neelima Pandey, Director- Program Design, District Transformation Program (DTP), Ms. Lalita Bhattacharjee, FAO, Dr. M.G.Ragunathan, Principal, Guru Nanak College & Members of the Executive Committee of The Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA), Govt of India. Mr. Aaquib Hussain, Co-Founder, Ms. Ruby Ray, CEO & Director and Mr. Srustijeet Mishra, Co-Founder & Director, were present to represent Action Lab 2050.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Ruby Ray, CEO & Director, Action Lab 2050 said, “India with its myriad cultures needs an immediate single platform solution and discourse on menstrual and maternal health. Period shaming must end to empower our women and girls especially living under poverty. In our country only 36% of women use sanitary pads and 70 per cent of all reproductive diseases are caused by poor menstrual hygiene. About 12.1 out of 33.6 crore menstruating women use sanitary napkin in the country as per National Family Health Survey. Rest of the women and girls are often more adversely and disproportionately affected due to poor sanitation facilities, worried about their social dignity and safety, as it strongly borders around cultural taboos that significantly impact women and girls’ lives and reinforces gender exclusion. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated menstrual hygiene particularly among the poorest communities affected by multiple deprivations. These issues encouraged us to form Action Lab 2050 where we address the lack of education on the issue, persisting taboos and stigma, overcome limited access to reusable bio-degradable hygienic menstrual products through first-of-its-kind eCommerce platform and work in tandem with UNDP Sustainable Development Goals also advocate for proper sanitation in schools with Ministry of Health, Government of India. At Action Lab 2050, we sincerely believe that this will cater to an ever-emerging need of creating awareness among the society at large about menstrual hygiene and bring about a positive change.”

Ms Neelima Pandey, Director- Program Design, District Transformation Program (DTP), added, “I would like to congratulate the Action Lab 2050 team for bringing such critical contributions to the space of menstrual poverty. It was heartening to listen to the speakers advocating it to be recognized as a separate right for women. We at Piramal Foundation are a learner in this space and for us the only way to be of impact and service to our girls is to collaborate with experts and scale the impact.”

AL50 is in the process of tying up with various universities for research on social, cultural & policy-making aspects of maternal & menstrual health. Overall, AL50 aims at scouting, funneling & building a set of capable stakeholders in the eco-system for the broader motive of creating a conducive environment for every woman to live up to her full potential.

-Odisha Age