Menstruating has constantly been taboo in societies. Different cultures have been perceiving menstruation with different interpretations and approaches with values like shame, fear and in some societies, they are celebrated as fertility transitions. Vast advancing in technologies and materialism seems much easier and faster than cultural advancements and change in traditional ways of thinking. Even today, there are places where menstruation cannot be taken normally and women are treated degradingly during this bodily process. They are isolated from others, restricted from the daily acts, constrained from touching things, entering places of religious interests in public and even in their own houses. They have to follow the given rituals (varies from culture to culture) during these days.
However, thanks to the long-standing research works by feminists and thoughtfulness to the value of equality in genders, there are a few developments that pave ways towards new outlooks and attitudes towards menstruation in modern minds.
more gender-neutral interpretations are better conceived with the help of education and awareness among people.
Although there have been different voices raising from time to time against ‘the menstruation taboo’. One such example has been the London Marathon 2015, where Ms. Kiran Gandhi, well- known as the musician, activist Madame Gandhi participated in the run during her periods, without using any means of restrictions as Free Bleeding in the intention of spreading awareness about the stigma. This campaign had led to free availability of sanitary products for females in schools. There have been numerous other campaigns for this cause since long.
Bringing India into forefront in such matter, we find the need to make aware huge number of populations here to take period normally.
There have also been quite a lot of campaigns in India run by different groups of people and organizations. The latest that took place was by the Noble Hygiene manufacturers group. The group released a campaign for Menstrual Hygiene Day with the intention of tackling taboos that remain around periods and menstrual hygiene in the country. To mark 28th of May, 2020 as day of Menstrual Hygiene, Nobel Hygiene worked alongside Rio Agency and addressed these issues through a series of visuals and analogies, showcasing many realities of dealing with menstruation bleeding practically, as well as tackling some of the taboos still prevalent in attitudes towards menstruation.
While sharing his views on the campaign, Kartik Johari, vice-president of Nobel Hygiene said: “An overwhelming majority of women in India who suffer from a heavy flow are undiagnosed and ill-informed about their condition. We understand that the journey from using a cloth to sanitary napkins has been a long and arduous one. However, this needs to be refined further, as a few sizes do not fit all. With this campaign, we want to reach out to women and help raise awareness about the repercussions that ignoring and not recognizing heavy flow as a unique condition might have on their bodies. The normalization of this condition cannot continue in the interest of their wellbeing. The campaign will show solidarity to women facing these challenges, and let them know they are not alone in busting age-old myths.”
Another similar campaign that held in July 2020 in Jharkhand, India was called the Men 4 Menstruation to end the stigma from human minds. The goal of this campaign was to raise awareness on menstruation and advance equality and empower all kinds of menstruators across the state of Jharkhand and beyond. The organizers also intended to provide women and girls with access to menstrual hygiene tools and education. According to Mr Biswambharnath Naik, one of the co-founders, the M4M campaign will comprise of seven major phases with the first one being a signature campaign, engaging all district administration officials and policymakers to take a pledge to support menstruating women.
Also Mr. Naik explains
“The second and third phase would be for creating awareness and setting up MHM Chachi (aunt) libraries across government schools in the state. Mr Vinod Mishra, the National Coordinator of WSSCC India, has supported our campaign in our design phase, and WSSCC will assist us in the future plans.”
Besides, cheers to the technological advancements that we have modern day means to deal with women’s hygiene in much better ways during these difficult days of menstruation, starting from sanitary pads, panty liners, tampons to the ultra-modern period cups that have now arrived the global market. There are also cramp medications and wearable bands available for period pain relief.