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Menstrual Hygiene: The need of reusable and biodegradable sanitary napkins

by salil123
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Around 400 million women in India are in menstruating age. Out of which 57 per cent of women and girls drop out before reaching high school. Taboos and myths around menstruation still form a social stigma in our society. Periods not only have physical attributes but also affect the mental well-being of women. Women and young girls are subjected to untouchability or titled ‘unclean’, ‘dirty’ when menstruating. Of these, some also opt out of work due to periods.

The misinformation, half-baked lies, myths disapprove and neglect the physical and natural aspects surrounding menstruation. Young girls in rural India are subjected to use of old, worn out rags, clothes, ashes during periods. Only 2 to 3 percent of the rural women are open to or have access to disposable sanitary napkins.

Sensitizing men and women

At such times, there is a need to promote and emphasize the importance of sensitizing both men and women about menstrual hygiene and reproductive health. Campaigns and awareness drives, seminars, government and private run programs are necessary to make young people aware of menstruation and old to break the taboos and stereotypes.

Out of the women not accessible to disposable pads, the rest of rural women opt for rags and old cloths. Using rags, plastics can cause bacteria to grow on them and result in vaginal infections. The rest of them are exposed to using disposable sanitary pads made of plastic and harmful chemicals. The raw materials used do not decompose and enter the ecosystem, causing disbalance and affecting the environment and nature.

Alternatives to plastic non-degradable pads

The alternative to these hazardous plastic non-degradable pads are reusable and biodegradable sanitary napkins. Reusable and biodegradable pads made up of all biodegradable materials like cotton, bamboo fiber, sugarcane, starch, etc, as these alternatives are sustainable, affordable and environment-friendly and reduces carbon emissions.

Cotton has been proven suitable for skin as it provides cooling and does not cause allergy or infections. Brands like Saathi, Carmesi, Heyday, Noraa provide biodegradable pads, available online on e-commerce sites, which prevent rashes and chronic vaginal illness.

Employment Opportunities

The making of these reusable pads on a large scale has proved to generate employment opportunities to the rural and marginalized sector through stitching and producing. India could add more than 700 billion dollars to the GDP by 2025, if there is a 10 per cent increase in the women workforce.

It is the need of the hour to open up and talk about menstrual health and emphasize on securing the environment as well. For a healthy lifestyle and sustainable living, one must choose wisely. A single biodegradable pad decomposes in 90 days to 180 days, while a plastic pad decomposes in 800 years.

Reusable sanitary products and its use should be promoted for a sustainable living. Sanitary pads are taxed at 12 per cent under Goods and Service Tax (GST), while condoms at zero. Why not make these environment friendly pads tax free? So as to help the women and the environment equally. Menstruation is not a choice.

– Kajol Pravina

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