World Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated on May 28 each year. This year, the Tata Trusts, through Tata Water Mission, organised menstrual hygiene management (MHM) melas across 10 blocks in six states — at Tehri in Uttarakhand; Sirohi in Rajasthan; Yadgir in Karnataka; Chandrapur in Maharashtra; Mandvi, Rajula, Talaja, Mahuva and Dahod in Gujarat; and Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh. The Trusts organised the melas in partnership with organisations such as CSPC and CInI in Gujarat, CMF in Rajasthan, Himmothan Society in Uttarakhand, Kalike in Karnataka and Strissue in Maharashtra. The melas are conducted to initiate open discussion on MHM in rural communities, post the organisation of awareness-enhancing modules.
The objective of the MHM melas was to bring women out in the open to talk and interact with others about menstruation, a topic still considered taboo in rural areas of India. A wide range of activities targeted at increasing awareness about menstrual hygiene were organised at the melas. They included awareness sessions, menstrual hygiene product sales, free health check-ups by gynaecologists and cloth pad stitching workshops. Games themed around menstrual hygiene such as snakes and ladders and ‘matka phod’ or breaking the mud pot helped break the myths around MHM. Local games like rangoli making, bead making, bangle making, tug of war, etc kept interest levels of participants high.
The successful melas saw a significant turnout —2,677 women and adolescent girls participated across the 10 blocks in six states. With consistent efforts and more such melas, the Tata Water Mission and its associate organisations hope to break the myths and taboos around menstruation and get women, girls, men and boys to consider it a regular part of life.