May 24 4 min

Menstrual Hygiene in India Challenges and Solutions

Menstruation, a commonly faced and natural physiological change for every female throughout the world, is surrounded by uncertainties and myths, particularly in India.

Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) resources include sanitary napkins, menstruation education and accessible clean toilets with running water and disposal facilities, but some 23 million girls in India drop out of school each year due to insufficiency of these resources.

Some of the challenges that women face in terms of menstrual hygiene in India are:

  • Cultural Taboos: A lot of people in India think menstruation is unclean and undesirable, which finally leads to removing menstruating women from the group. It leads to social exclusion and gender discrimination. The socio-cultural norm accepts rules that enable the girl to exclude from religious activities at the temples and to have access to clean water.
  • Lack of Education: In addition to the misinformation and lack of knowledge concerning menstruation, there are still misconceptions and myths about the subject. Many girls start their age of menstruation knowing menstrual hygiene myths, but they are not able to practice proper personal hygiene, which can end up causing health problems.
  • Accessibility: The issue of access to and affordability of menstrual hygiene products still needs special consideration. A great bulk of women coming from remote places, cannot have access to sanitary pads or cups and rather use rags or ashes.
  • Poor sanitation facilities: Inadequate sanitation facilities that do not include hygienic toilets and menstrual disposal units have become a major stumbling block. An inappropriately organised environment does not eliminate that discomfort and embarrassment, which harms their physical health and dignity.
  • Stigma and Shame: The social embargo attached to menses does not let women talk about it openly and accept their need to seek help. The same women fear being judged or ridiculed when openly talking about their menstrual needs. As a result, the chain of ignorance and disregard continues.
  • Economic Constraints: It seems that economic inequalities make the period handling problems even harder to overcome, e.g. for some women it is really hard to afford pads and to receive good medical care. The prohibitive cost of sanitary pads and the scarcity of different cheap options will have a harmful influence on women from low-income groups.
  • Gender norms and patriarchy: As the result of this persistence of sexism and patriarchy, menstrual taboos and women both get stereotyped. 

 Role of the Government and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs)

The government of India came up with a national information programme on menstrual hygiene, providing information to school-going girls from remote areas. This project was conferred with the name "Menstrual Hygiene Scheme," and its objectives were to improve menstrual hygiene among the adolescent girls residing in rural areas by providing them information, helping them to analyse the issues related to menstruation and cleanliness, and finally providing them with affordable sanitary napkins.

Alongside local NGOs some social entrepreneurs and ecological organisations are creating reusable pads, cups and the cheapest menstrual hygiene products. They are concentrating on the awareness among the grassroot levels.

Educational initiatives and campaigns

Moreover, there is a move to de-stigmatise and amplify the silence around the subject of menstruation through education. Government offices, communities, and schools are creating an atmosphere that encourages open discussion about menstrual health and hygiene through workshops, seminars, and campaigns.

Multi-Stakeholder Perspective

However, dealing with the problems concerning menstruation hygiene in India has to be a multifaceted programme that works with various actors, including the government, academia, medical establishments, social bodies, and specialised institutions. Addressing the issue of menstrual health and hygiene through promoting comprehensive education, improving access to low-cost menstrual products, and having a proper sanitation system can all be really effective steps towards fulfilling this dream.

Breaking Cultural Myths and Disrupting Traditional Beliefs

Along with that, we must reexamine the widespread cultural norms and traditional social rules that reinforce the stigma of menstruation. Long-term initiatives that focus on awareness, community involvement, and the participation of people who are influential and role models who can help change the perception and normalise the discussions about menstrual hygiene in India.  

Final Words

The menstrual hygiene in India impacts the young girls’ health, lives, and dignity. Nevertheless, there is still an existence of considerable barriers which should be curbed such as affordable hygienic products, training and sanitation facilities. Awareness creation, promotion of education and elimination of menstrual taboo are the avenues through which women and girls will learn to manage their period with dignity and safety.