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Why Is Informed Menstrual Product Choice Important

Informed product choice enables girls and women to choose a safe menstrual hygiene product according to her needs and comfort, her ability to pay, and the context in which she lives and experiences menstruation.

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Since the dawn of civilization, menstruation is always considered a dirty subject not to be discussed. However, with changing times women have come out of these cultural boundaries and have been vocal about the problems they face during menstruation. But the question that is asked every now and then is how many women in our country are aware of the correct use of menstrual hygiene products. The theme of 2019 Menstrual Hygiene Day is ‘It’s Time to Action’. We need to join hands in support of bringing about awareness along with substantial change on the ground. The use of such products has increased manifold in the past ten years.
 
With the recent National Family and Health Survey (NFHS 4 2015-16) numbers which inform that 48% of young women aged 15-24 years have used sanitary pads in rural India alone. But the total number of women and girls menstruating in India are 336 million. Hence, it can be estimated that 121 million women currently are using locally or commercially produced disposable sanitary napkins (census 2011, IIPS and NFHS 2015-16). A paper in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health informs that around 21,780 million of disposable pads are dumped into the garbage every year.
 

(Credit: WaterAid India)


Arundati Muralidharan, Manager-Policy at WaterAid India, said, “The menstrual health and hygiene landscape in India has evolved, with more product categories available than ever before. At this critical juncture, the conceptualization and practice of informed product choice in menstrual hygiene programs and policy is imperative. Informed product choice enables girls and women to choose a safe menstrual hygiene product according to her needs and comfort, her ability to pay, and the context in which she lives and experiences menstruation."

Why is an informed product choice important? 

In the current scenario, a majority of products reaching out to women and girls are made up of non-compostable materials that take thousands of years to perish. Moreover, it’s not just the point of waste, but also about easy access to proper disposal options as well. Women have improper and unhygienic habits which in a way affects their health. Hence, we need to sensitize women and girls about a better solution both in terms of waste disposal and maintaining menstrual hygiene as well. 

Few pointers to be taken care: 

  • Women and girls should identify the menstrual hygiene product as per their need, comfort, availability, cost and access to easy disposal
  • A mix-match of different products should be done to minimize the waste involved
  • Encourage and educate other women to practice 
  • We should demand proper policies and implementation to provide disposable and reusable options based on women’s needs, socio-economic and geographic contexts and supply chain considerations in that geography 
  • Introduction of more categories of products which are easily available, accessible and affordable to women and girls from all strata of society
  •  Research should be done to design and implement advertising campaigns to emphasize awareness about menstruation, menstrual hygiene, hygienic use, alternate product choice and their appropriate disposal    


(Credit: WaterAid India)


Why is the management of menstrual hygiene products challenging  

Menstrual hygiene products are made up of cellulose, super absorbent polymers, plastic and adhesives. Such products are difficult to decompose which further pollutes the environment. 

It's high time we see this as a serious problem while addressing it with adequate measures.


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