Menstruation. This word carries along a mixed bag of feelings. Among the many, shame, disgust, fright and sadness may be some. Today’s world is apparently too “cool” to talk about the subject but The Blood, Sweat and Tears Project understands the importance to spread awareness so that no girl is ashamed, disgusted, frightened or sad ever again. You must be wondering why we are talking about Menstruation at a time when the world is battling many more challenges with the COVID-19 situation. It is because, practically, all these issues are connected. We’re all walking on the same rope of issues. Falling, stumbling, wandering or running. Within this pandemic, there are things that we need to consider and one of them is periods. There is a reason people use the term Menstrual Health. The word health says it all. It is important, it is essential, it is REAL.
Fifteen-year-old Radhika is struggling because of this reality. With all schools shut, her access to the packet of sanitary napkins that sustained both her and her mother is lost. She explains, “One should understand that because of the pandemic, we don’t stop bleeding and the prices of sanitary napkins are so high. We are feeling the pinch all the more because my mother is now the only bread earner. My father who used to work as a labourer has lost his job. Most of the time I am using cloth, but we are running short of materials to make sanitary napkins at home”.
Radhika is just one girl from the 62% of women in India fighting to get access to sanitary napkins. Even, the ones who might have access to a store can’t afford to purchase them due to the recent rise in the price. You might think that sanitary pads would be considered as an essential that women have to have available at all times, well you would be right. Unfortunately, this is not the case in rural India during this pandemic. Arunachalam Muruganantham also known as Padman had said that his factories were almost idle as this pandemic goes on, as he has not been able to receive the necessary materials to produce them. 82% of organisations such as Menstrual Health Alliance India (MHAI) found that there was either no or extremely limited access to sanitary pads due to non-operational production units. The pandemic and the lockdown has hampered the availability of the most basic need of 121 millions especially in the rural areas of the country.
Learning stories about girls like Radhika who have to fight for something that we or our family members can access effortlessly makes us feel privileged. Use that privilege to donate money to the several organizations trying to help girls stuck in situations like these . Although, donating money is not the only way to help. The links below are videos on how to make reusable sanitary napkins at home at an extremely low cost with household materials. Learn and teach this process to as many people as possible and tell them to do the same. This will ensure that girls aren’t faced with infections and our comfortable while menstruating.
Article written by Harshita, Thea, Kabir, and Ahana