Menstruation is a difficult time for a woman, more so because of the various social and mobility restrictions placed upon her. There are various social norms, unwritten rules and taboos surrounding menstruation. Entry in religious spaces, working in the kitchen, tending to cattle, and various other such bounds are placed upon women. According to the survey of 600 women of 5 coastal districts of Gujarat undertaken by CSPC, it was found that a majority of women did not have an understanding of biological reasons for menstruation and followed age-old myths and beliefs passed on over generations. The ‘impurity’ associated with menstruation lowers self-esteem of adolescent girls, affects their decision-making ability and perpetuates gender inequity at a very young age.
CSPC initiated structured work on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in 2018 through a dedicated program. The MHM program aims to create an open environment around menstruation. Under the program, awareness generation of the community women and school-going adolescent girls is undertaken through delivery of a four-part module. This module focusses upon sensitisation regarding various aspects of menstruation such as the importance of maintaining hygiene, understanding it from a biological perspective and myth busting of taboos prevalent in the society. The adolescent girls studying in standard 6 to 12 are reached through schools based formation of adolescent girl groups, while women in the community are reached through Self-Help Groups.
Along with awareness generation on menstrual hygiene, the programme also undertakes regular health checkups of women and adolescent girls. Another crucial aspect of the MHM programme is ensuring the access to menstrual hygiene products. Adolescent girls and women are trained to stitch cloth pads and upon the assembly of disposable pads. Various tie-ups with pad manufacturers are undertaken to ensure timely and regular access to sanitary pads. A unique initiative of the programme is conducting couple counselling to sensitise male partners upon the various aspects of menstruation.