This is the story of summer 2015, when things were simpler and one could meet, greet, and go out freely. Oh, how I miss those days…. This is exactly what Tanaya was thinking while lying on her bed remembering the good old summer vacations she spent with her grandparents in the villages.
She liked everything about her village, the beautiful trees, open spaces, her backyard with home grown vegetables, the company and pampering from her grandparents, just everything. However, she most awaited visiting her village to meet her childhood friend Geeta. Geeta was the same age as Tanaya, both had grown up together since childhood, but only met during the vacations. While dreaming about meeting Geeta again, she started thinking about how her life was different from Geeta’s.
In the summer of 2015, Tanaya was especially excited to meet her dearest friend and inform her about the most exciting and nervous change in her life. After reaching her grandparents’ home that summer, Tanaya quickly hugged her grandparents and rushed to meet Geeta. After their long and loud screeching about who had missed whom the most, Tanaya proceeded to tell Geeta about the first time she got her periods. Without a second thought Tanaya began telling her about how terrified she had been in the beginning when suddenly Geeta shushed her loud friend and took her to the backyard. She slowly looked around to see if anyone was around and then whispered to Tanaya, “How are you talking about something so dirty so loudly. Do you want a scolding from my mother?”
Tanaya a bit confused about her reaction quickly changed her tone sensing her friends hesitation. After a quick apology she said, “But you know my science teacher Ms. Smita had told us, Menstruation is a very natural process and one should discuss about Menstrual Hygiene Management, so that we are aware”. Clearly not understanding what Tanaya was talking about, with a shy smile Geeta asked her friend sheepishly to explain what Menstrual Hygiene Management was?
Trying her level best to narrate exactly what Smita ma’am had told them, Tanaya began telling Geeta about menstrual Hygiene Management, “About 26% of the world's population is of reproductive age. Most women menstruate for approximately two to seven days each month. So, it is important that we give ‘MHM’, that’s the short for Menstrual Hygiene management , a thought.”
“Management of menstrual hygiene is about women and adolescent girls having access to menstrual sanitary products used during their menstruation, Ease to use cleaning facilities to wash, and Having proper facilities to dispose of menstrual waste generated.
The broader factors around menstruation include health, well-being, gender equality, education, justice, empowerment, and rights.”
Geeta amused by the brand-new information exclaimed that she had no idea how important menstruation was. She went on to talk about how it was never spoken so openly anywhere in the village. Tanaya remembered “Yes Geeta I remember Ma’am telling us how inadequate toilet facilities and clean water, lack of adequate sanitary products is some of the major challenges in India today. And Taboo in society makes it difficult for girls like us to publicly talk about menstruation, Lack of awareness among young women like us, regarding our own body functioning and Improper disposal methods is also causing environmental issues.”
“There are, however, awareness campaigns now being conducted. I remember just this December, Didis from an NGO had come to brief us about Menstruation and what products to use and how to dispose the same. We were told that if we are using a cloth, we must wash it with soap and dry it in the sun so that there is no bacterial growth. This practise can help prevent infection. She also gave me a sanitary napkin for free and taught us how to use it. But many girls from my school did not attend the session because it was on Menstruation. I think more initiatives like this will help and make me just as knowledgeable as you” said Geeta, admiring her friend’s interest in educating her.
Hearing this Tanaya excitedly jumping told Geeta about Menstrual Hygiene Management Day. “A whole day to celebrate periods?” giggled Geeta, not quite getting hold of the idea that it was true.
“Of course, Menstrual Hygiene Day is an annual awareness day celebrated on 28th May. It was initiated in 2014 by WASH United, a German-based NGO.” Tanaya proudly flaunted her knowledge. On the other hand confused Geeta when on with her questions, “28th May is next week, but why is it celebrated Tanaya?”
“Umm let me remember what Smita Ma’am had said, oh yes... I will explain – Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated
1. To highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and spread its awareness.
2. To look on accessibility, cost reduction and reduce social stigma around menstruation products.
3. To raise adequate sanitation facilities and give access to feminine hygiene products.
4. It will help create a society that can welcome an open discussion on menstrual hygiene
5. It also encourages in educating females about MHM
Menstrual Hygiene Day encourages media platforms like television and social media posts regarding menstruation. Campaigns for public knowledge will help influence decision-makers to bring a better change in society. The day presents an opportunity to critically campaign for menstrual hygiene management (MHM) to be incorporated into global, national, and local policies and programmes.”
Geeta was completely stunned and just then had the most brilliant idea “Tanaya, you know what we are going to do on this 28th May?” Not even waiting for Tanaya to respond she almost screamed in delight “We are going to have this exact conversation with all the girls in the village and tell them how important it is to know about menstruation”
Just then Tanaya’s mother entered, having overheard the conversation she added, “That’s a brilliant idea Geeta, even I will help you girls reach out to all the women in the village. They are more likely to listen to you, if I accompany you two”. Both the girls laughed and truly celebrated 28th May of 2015 with all the women and girls from the village along with Dr.Sunita, Tanaya’s mother educating them about MHM.
How Tanaya, wished that the lockdown ended soon so that she could visit her dearest friend Geeta and create some more exciting and fun memories.
How do you celebrate MHM Day?