Make Menstrual Hygiene Education Compulsory in Schools
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Ruby* was told she couldn’t play her favourite sport. Why? Because she was impure. The stigma and ignorance about girls and their bodies had destroyed her dreams.
Ruby had been tirelessly practicing Kabaddi. She woke up before dawn to practice before school. She stayed back late to improve her game. Her efforts were paying off. She was selected to her school’s Sub-Junior Kabaddi team.
But two days before her first big tournament she got her period. For the first time. But instead of supporting her, Ruby’s parents barred her from leaving the house for five days. Her teachers told her she was too impure to step foot on the Kabaddi mat. Not one adult supported Ruby. Instead they shamed her, made her feel “impure”, and destroyed her hopes and dreams.
Like Ruby, I meet many young girls from different parts of India while working in development sector. The questions they ask me are so basic - they’re all scared about what’s happening to them.
“Where is the blood coming from?”
“Does it make me impure?”
“Do I have blood cancer?”
“Do other girls go through what I do?”
“Is it ok to use the same sanitary pad for 24 hours?”
It breaks my heart to see how alone they are through this process, without a single adult to tell them the simple facts. These brave girls, like Ruby, deserve better.
That is why I have started this petition asking the Ministry of Human Resource Development to make education on menstrual hygiene compulsory in all schools. Everything starts with education. Education will help girls like Ruby manage their periods. Education will help them to continue attending school instead of dropping out. And education will let them dream their own futures, whether it’s a doctor, engineer, economist or future Kabaddi champion.
I am very lucky to come from a privileged background. When I got my period, I was aware of what was happening to me. My parents explained the process of menstruation without shaming me or making me feel awkward. They never stopped me from going out, going to school or from doing my favourite activities. Doesn’t every girl deserve a life like this?
Unfortunately, most girls in India face the opposite. Almost half have no knowledge about menstruation or what to do when they get their first period. Almost 23% even drop out of school when reaching puberty. And those who remain miss up to 5 days of school per month due to a lack of education, limited access to menstrual products and facilities and stigma.
In fact, when I was away from home, people told me to keep quiet when I spoke about my period. They would stare, like I had confessed to a shameful crime. We need to change this attitude. And with your help, we can take the first step by replacing the stigma and silence around menstruation with conversation and confidence. We can build an India where every woman and girl is empowered to manage her menstruation safely, hygienically, with confidence and without stigma. We can ensure that no girl is limited by something as natural and normal as her period. We can build a world where they have #NoMoreLimits
Yes, this is an uphill battle which will require a big collective effort. But together, I know we can do it. Let’s start with education.
Thanks for your support.
*Name changed for privacy
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