“Sukhad Project”

There are approximately 355 million menstruating girls in India, of which 71% were not even aware of menstruation (or normally called as period) before their first period. To top that almost 70% of women in India cannot afford to buy sanitary pads for themselves or their daughters. 1 Currently in many rural areas, women have to use cotton cloths, cotton, dry leaves and other things for the most difficult times of the month. This promotes uterine cancer, growth of bacteria and many other diseases due to the unhygienic conditions. Most of the women do not go alone to the Chemist shop to buy the pads to avoid the “weird looks” from people inside the shop. Even after buying the pads we receive them in a black polythene (panni).
Apart from the looming health issues, the lack of awareness is also a big problem. In the current situation, Indian schools (mostly) try to educate the female population of menstruation with PPT’s and samples of a single pad, how to use and what not to do. Such is also done only for the girls in the class while the boys get free games/P.E. period!
The scenario of hygiene in the lives of young girls who have just reached puberty and had the first experience is pathetic the least to essay and the same continues for the rest of their lives. Girls do not have consistent access to preferred, high-quality MHM products. Almost 88% of women and girls in India use homemade alternatives, such as an old cloth, rags, hay, sand, or ash. Qualitative studies and an analysis of the product market indicate that premium commercial products are unaffordable or not consistently accessible for women and girls in low-income communities.
Even today, people are afraid to talk about menstruation on a day to day basis, whether it be in schools, colleges, offices, or at home. Women have to hide the pads at home so that the males in the family cannot spot them and use the pads in secrecy. The suppression of talks related to “periods” and the societal norms plus the gendered biases mostly perpetuates from her mother as she is the only person she can talk to during her harsh times. The child who just transitioned to a girl is not allowed to take shower on some days, cannot enter the kitchen, cannot enter the
(1). Menstrual Health in India | Country Landscape Analysis,
https://menstrualhygieneday.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/FSG-Menstrual-Health-Landscape_India.pdf

(2).Spot On! Improving Menstrual Health and Hygiene in India. Report. Dasra, Kiawah Trust, and USAID, 2014. temple, cannot touch some foods and in some areas she is also banned from entering her own home as she is considered impure. She is left questioning everything with no one to answer them and with no explanation as to why this is happening to her or why she is being treated like an outcast in her own home.
In situations where the access to pads is less and less, the onset of COVID-19, created havoc for women all over India. Complete lockdown in the whole State left women unsure of their menstrual hygiene. When there was no access to sanitary napkins, medicines, disposable menstrual cups or tampons, the times of apprehension was seen. Although the essential services were allowed, not all women are financially stable to buy the expensive pads or pay for the extra charges of delivery. Most women for their households buy single pads or the cheapest ones according to their needs and these times have only crushed their soul.
Menstrual hygiene is the most concerning of all the issues in India, to break the taboo a Delhi based NGO called Hamari Pahchan, took the initiative to provide underprivileged women with sanitary napkins in various parts of South-Delhi. This initiative was known as the “Sukhad” initiative and since its commencement has received enormous positive responses from various sects of the society. Currently under this project we have aimed to provide these women with “sanitary kits” called “sukhad kits” which includes pads, soaps and envelopes to dispose of the pads. Our aim is to provide at least 50,000 sukhad kits to underprivileged women, promote sanitary conditions and menstruation hygiene . We are not only providing the means of making 3 them strong in tough times but are also educating them the correct way of taking care of them themselves during the tough times. We are giving basic education to girls and women regarding their personal hygiene and of those near them. Our tagline for the project,” break the taboo” speaks more just like the act itself does.
The importance of menstrual hygiene not only promotes self awareness but is also a precursor to mental health. All of these when taken care of, is one woman strong for herself. One strong woman tagging others along with her to create a change. So, let’s speak freely of periods,
support those who are working for the cause and keep the line growing.
By: Priyanka Walter
Date: 24th July,2020. (3). Sukhad project, https://www.hamaripahchan.org/donations/sukhad-project/

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