Menstrual hygiene campaign launched

Event to promote concept among school-going adolescent girls, women in rural and urban segments

A menstrual hygiene campaign was launched in the city in connection with the recent observance of World Menstrual Hygiene Day to promote the concept of Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) among school-going adolescent girls and women in rural and urban segments.

Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy inaugurated the event under the auspices of Tiruchi-based NGO Gramalaya.

Sneha Shergill, Mrs. India — The Queen of Substance 2016, who was declared brand ambassador for MHM by Gramalaya recently by S. Damodaran, founder-CEO of Gramalaya and J. Geetha, Director-CSR Initiatives, joined the gathering as a celebrity campaigner for the cause.

Stating that she was proud to be amidst social activists who chose to touch a taboo topic among several communities, Ms. Shergill lauded Gramalaya for not considering periods “as a curse or a problem for women but rather chose to empower them to consider the phase as a blessing and educated them to follow proper standards/methods of hygiene.”

According to Ms. Shergill, talking about periods is still considered a stigma and the myths around this natural bodily function has not only affected girls physically but also mentally and emotionally.

While there is a barrage of enticing offers on TV commercials showing a super absorbent pad or a perfumed version, there has been no focus on the adverse effects like rashes caused to the skin by using sanitary pads apart from other gynecological problems or the amount of plastic and chemical waste added to the environment, she said. “It takes over 500 years for the materials in one pad to decompose. One single pad!”, she added.

Disposing of thousands of tonnes of sanitary waste is beyond the capability of a government or civic body. This is where organizations like Gramalaya and the movement it has started need to be supported, she said. The feel-free cloth pads are not a piece of cloth that was used traditionally but are designed and produced after many hours of R&D, she added. Following the release of posters on the importance of MHM awareness and usage of reusable cloth pads to save the environment, Ms. Geetha said Gramalaya had, till date, reached more than 2,19,645 women with MHM messages and reusable cloth pads. Besides, this year in collaboration with Wash United, which hosts the World Menstrual Hygiene Day, the NGO reached out to an estimated 6,65,000 adolescent girls in Tamil Nadu and women in six southern States, including Puducherry, for promoting reusable cloth pads and awareness messages.

In addition to this, more than 200 girls friendly school toilet complexes were built apart from incinerator facilities and hand-washing stations across Tamil Nadu.

The NGO is also popularising smart toilets (bath attached and with incinerator facility) for disposal of soiled sanitary napkins and had established over 40,000 of the same.

These toilets ensure dignity, safety, privacy, and security for women and adolescent girls for changing sanitary napkins or cloth pads during menstruation.

Health Minister Malladi Krishna Rao, Alice Vaz, Social Welfare Secretary, and others participated.

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