World Menstrual Hygiene Day: 42 percent women in Odisha Unwarere of Using sanitary pads 

Bhubaneswar: As the world is celebrating World Menstrual Hygiene Day, the recent National Family Health Survey report has revealed that about 50 percent of women in India and 42 percent women in Odisha are yet using clothes during their monthly periods instead of sanitary pads.

The major factors behind this can be myths, superstitions, taboos and lack of access to sanitary pads which is why women remote areas still preferring the age old practice of using clothes during menstrual cycle. This habit turns out to be extremely unhygienic for the women making them fall sick frequently.

The rural women being ignorant and unaware are refraining from using sanitary napkins. Which is why adolescent girls and women in rural areas do not even know of how to use a sanitary napkins.

For example, in Khaladi panchayat under Udla block in Mayurbhanj district, hundreds of napkins are seen being thrown away in the garbage. These are the napkins supposed to be distributed among school children. This indicates nothing but sheer ignorance among the rural girls and women.  As the girl students are ignorant of the benefits of using sanitary napkins they show their hesitation to use them.

The National Family Health Survey report states that 50 % of women in the 15-24 age group in India use cloth during their menstrual cycle. Out of which, 42.7 % of women are from Odisha. Again from these women 46.9 % of rural women and 22.4 % of urban women use clothes, rather than napkins.

As per medical experts, blood is known as a medium which can spread infection easily. This piece of cloth is a source of infection even after washing. Through repeated washing also the clothes cannot be cleaned properly. So it is to be changed every six hours.

Many social activists in different parts of the state have been raising voice against the poor situation of the women’s reproductive health and lack of awareness especially in the rural belts. One such drive initiated by a group of women activists demand working women should get ‘paid period leave’. As interpreted by many women, women suffer severe pain on the first and second days of their periods. If they are granted leave during those times, it would be a great help to them.

On this special day, Sunita Parmanik and Laxmi Munda of a slum in the Rourkela daily market area need mention. They are school students but they are better known for taking the cudgels for creating awareness among other students.

The awareness campaigns should be vigorously materialized among the poor, rural women as well as the young students who go to schools and colleges. Along with that the I formation about how to maintain hygiene and what food items to be taken during the menstruation period should be taught. Talking and asking about sanitary pads in the shops should be normalized, and there should not be any hesitation or shame for the girls, women also or their families.