Page 10 - MHM Report-2023
P. 10

This view is further supported by Tata Water   taboos built around the perceived impurity of
            Mission’s baseline studies (see Box 3) conducted   menstrual blood; the lack of access to information
            in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Jharkhand. In these     and support systems for girls and women; low
            studies, it was found that most school-going girls   availability of and access to safe and affordable
            have started using sanitary pads thanks to the    menstrual hygiene products; and low access to
            free distribution in government schools, while    adequate water, sanitation, hygiene and disposal
            most tribal women in Rajasthan continue to        facilities. Addressing these factors is essential to
            use cloth pads. In Gujarat, while 87% of females   ensure hygienic management of menstruation.
            use cloth pads, 13% (mostly girls) are now using
            sanitary pads according to a study conducted      i)  socio-cultural norm
            in 2018-19. In Jharkhand, the reported use of     The most pervasive barrier to effective MHM
            sanitary pads was lower due to the geographical   is the culture of shame and silence that
            remoteness of the location.                       surrounds menstruation. Research on MHM in
                These baseline studies also reveal that more   India underscores low levels of awareness and
            ground needs to be covered in terms of access     underlying myths and misconceptions. The social
            to right menstruation-related information and     taboos that surround menstruation prevent
            dispelling myths and stigma associated with       open and healthy discussion. Additionally, there
            menstruation. Across all geographies, girls       are multiple restrictions on food consumption,
            and women did not understand the biology          religious worship, interactions and mobility that
            of menstruation or vaguely connected it to        limit the ability of girls and women to practice safe
            reproductive health. The finding that none of     MHM, and which often expose them to physically
            the respondents in these states saw ASHAs and     adverse conditions.
            AWWs as sources of information on MHM is also         These myths and taboos limit women’s ability
            a matter of concern.                              to access, use, change, wash and use MHM products,
                                                              specifically cloth, in a hygienic manner. For instance,
            bArriers To MHM                                   after girls and women wash their menstrual cloth

            In any society or region, it is important to      pieces, they dry the cloth pieces in dark rooms or
            understand the local knowledge, attitudes and     corners instead of in the open sunlight (see Box 4).
            practices related to menstruation with regard         The use of cloth pads over disposables has
            to myths and misconceptions and the access,       spawned its own set of misconceptions. Due to the
            use and disposal of MHM products. Often,          market positioning of commercially sold sanitary
            these factors that pose the greatest barriers to   pads, many users have been misled to falsely
            awareness and adoption of safe MHM practices.     believe that using a cloth pad as an absorbent
                These socio-cultural challenges include the   instead of a sanitary pad is unhygienic. This is

           Awareness gap                                  Menstruation myths

               71% of girls in India reported having         In some regions, menstruating females are not
              no knowledge of menstruation before            allowed to touch infants.
              their first period.                             In some villages, people believe agricultural land will
                                                             lose its fertility if mixed with menstrual blood.
     3         50% of schools surveyed in Tata Trusts’   4      In certain regions, menstruating women are considered
              geographies had health educators,
                                                             untouchable and barred from public places.
              but they were not trained to offer
              information on menstrual health.            Source: Tata Trusts baseline survey 2018-19

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