Page 49 - MHM Report-2023
P. 49

he first chapter of this report pointed     Role of NGOs: India’s social sector needs to
                      out rural India’s ‘more-than-a-quarter’   act as a link between state-sponsored programmes
                      problem. This refers to the fact that   and their intended beneficiaries. Non-government
            Tover 25% of India’s rural population             organisations (NGOs) working at the grassroot
            still doesn’t practice safe menstrual health &    level should step up to ensure no community
            hygiene management (MHM). There is clearly a      member falls through the cracks. The social
            need for greater education about menstruation,    sector can contribute towards the intended 100%
            particularly among adolescents. The adoption      menstrual hygiene goal by identifying beneficiaries
            of safe MHM is also hindered by the low access,   from susceptible groups such as economically-
            availability and affordability of safe MHM        backward, illiterate, tribal communities,
            products. Thus, joint and concerted efforts by all   geographically-remote areas and linking them to
            stakeholders is needed to bridge this substantial   state-sponsored MHM benefits. The social sector
            gap urgently.                                     needs to double up as a representative for these
                Need for integrated efforts: Owing to its     communities and bargain their rightful place in
            inter-disciplinary nature, MHM in India lacks an   MHM-related decision-making and policies at the
            individual and/or centralised government body     state and centre level.
            responsible for influencing and implementing          Philanthropic activism: Any desired
            MHM-related policies, programmes and              increase in adoption of safe MHM practices, will
            budgeting. Central government ministries, state   need to be bolstered with funds and infrastructure
            and district-level departments, and regulatory    aimed at making menstrual hygiene products
            bodies are all equal and important stakeholders   accessible and affordable. Close to half of the
            in India’s MHM agenda. At the central             country’s population will experience menstruation
            government level, the stakeholders include the    at some point of their lives. Empowering young
            Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry   girls with the right knowledge and access to MHM
            of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of     products allow for the short-term gain of increased
            Women and Child Development, Ministry of          literacy among the women population. Besides,
            Rural Development and Ministry of Human           there are long-term gains to be made through
            Resource Development.                             creation of gender equity at schools, higher
                At the state and district level, the relevant   education facilities and later workplaces.
            departments include those dealing with the            Philanthropists need to pledge long-term
            subjects of health, education, women and child    commitment of funds to make menstruation
            development, water, sanitation and waste          safe for this large demographic. Philanthropic
            management (SBM), Panchayati Raj and              institutions should consider incubating
            livelihoods development. It is thus imperative    startups, disruptive technologies and small to
            that all state programmes map the relevant        medium entrepreneurs who focus on affordable
            departments by their political will and interest to   menstrual hygiene.
            work on MHM, as well as by budget allocations         Healthy menstruation and menstrual hygiene
            and their existing programmes on menstrual        management is closely linked to four different
            health. Consistent engagement with these          SDGs set by the United Nations. A greater focus
            departments can allow the programme to            on MHM will go a long way towards gender
            influence its design and implementation at the    empowerment and will have a cascading effect on
            state or district level.                          village-level socio-economic change.

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