Periods in the Time of Pandemic
General News | Nov-16-2023
With lockdown 2.0 in process in major parts of India and the ever-increasing number of cases, people have started to take personal hygiene very seriously. But one sector of that is often locked over because it affects only 50% of the population i.e., menstrual hygiene or in layman’s terms periods or chums. This 50% can be expressed numerically as 366 million Indians (including non-binary and trans people who experience periods). (Manoj, 2020)
This pandemic highlighted the prejudices that are still prevalent in India, causing another challenge to be conquered by menstruating individuals.
With government schemes like Kishori Shakti Yojna run under the Ministry of Child and Women Development, where school-going females get access to menstrual products such as sanitary napkins, but with the closing down of schools, their supply chain has seriously been affected. There are other schemes in place too, like the Menstrual Hygiene Scheme run in association with the Health and Family Welfare, where adolescent women will be able to purchase sanitary pads for Re 1/- per piece, but no data was available on how to access them. (Manoj, 2020)
Considering sanitary products were not listed as essential during the first mandate taken out by the government shows the lack of acceptance and understanding of the basic bodily functions of a human. It was only after the backlash, did the government allowed the production and distribution of basic period products.
Covid-19 has disparately affected people of the low socio-economic population as compared to others and this further disparately affected their access to basic hygiene products. With periods often left out of the conversation, the situation has further deteriorated.
With conversations around periods dominated by cisgender, fully abled – upper middle-class females, in times like these it becomes even more important to look out for the marginalized sections of the society and to consider them as well. (Boondh, 2021)
The pandemic is far from over as the cases rise every day and the lockdown getting extended every week. Its effects will be felt for years to come. Awareness regarding menstruation needs to be amplified and talked about to remove the stigmas and the taboos that, unfortunately, are still associated with it. Talks regarding periods should not be restricted to just females. Males also play a huge role in amplifying the voices that need to be heard and the topics that need to be discussed. Gender equality cannot be achieved unless menstrual health and hygiene are addressed. (Chan)
By: Deeksha Goyal
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