Page 9 - MHM Report-2023
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(MHM) has long been hindered by cultural beliefs   have contributed to the increased usage of
            and infrastructural challenges. These barriers    sanitary pads, such as the free or subsidised
            don’t just compromise women’s health and their    distribution of sanitary pads through government
            access to a better life and opportunities; they also   schools (under the erstwhile Rashtriya Kishor
            have a larger socio-economic impact on families   Swasthya Karyakram of the Ministry of Health
            and communities (see Box 1).                      and Family Welfare) and state sponsored schemes
                The onset of puberty marks the invisible      for distribution of sanitary pads. The increase in
            line where the girl child is treated differently by   rural sanitary pad usage may also be attributed
            society. Gender disparities start becoming acute   to better market availability – through smaller
            post menarche. Adolescent girls start to face     companies either manufacturing their own
            restrictions in terms of their mobility and agency.   products or importing low-cost products and
            Women in India continue to experience challenges   making distribution inroads into tier-2 and tier-3
            in managing their menses – triggered by flawed    towns and rural areas.
            understanding of human biology and lack of            However, there is a long way to go. More
            conversations around periods. Social factors such   social behaviour change is required to move
            as access to sanitary products, safe disposal, toilets   the needle on menstrual health, especially as
            and privacy hinder menstrual health.              it pertains to reproductive health and gender
                The heart of the matter is that any discussion   empowerment.
            towards empowerment of women in India needs
            to consider the social tensions around menstrual   A sizeAble probleM
            health and its impact on agency.                  As suggested in the Menstrual Health in India
                There are a few positive signs. The last decade   Landscape Analysis report by FSG in 2016, more
            witnessed a steady rise in the adoption of MHM    than 88 percent of women in India use home-made
            in India. Government and non-governmental         products to manage menstruation (see Box 2).
            institutions have intensified efforts to address   In the absence of menstrual hygiene awareness,
            MHM in schools and communities. Government        these methods may expose women to health risks.
            efforts in particular have resulted in greater        Further, National Family Health Survey-5
            availability of disposable sanitary pads through   data suggests that over a quarter of India’s rural
            schools and Accredited Social Health Activists    female population in the age group of 15-24 years
            (commonly known as ASHAs) and Anganwadi           does not use hygienic methods of MHM. This
            workers (AWWs). Many complementary factors        indicates a large population at risk.

              MHM and socio-economic                     MHM in india: Key stats
              wellbeing                                      Approximately 88% of women in India use homemade
                                                            products (such as old cloth or rags) to manage their
              Healthy menstruation and menstrual            menstruation.
              hygiene management is intimately               71% of girls in India report having no knowledge of
              linked with several UNDP Sustainable          menstruation before their first period.
              Development Goals (SDGs), including:           70% of women in India say their family cannot afford
                                                            to buy sanitary pads.
                                                             40% of all government schools lacked a functioning
        1                                          2        common toilet, another 40% lacked a separate toilet
                                                            for girls.
                                                         Source: Menstrual Health in India | Landscape Analysis,
                                                         a report by global non-profit FSG, in 2016

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