Women’s hygiene in India: The scenario today
In a country where women have reach the frontiers of space, basic necessities such as access to clean drinking water, toilets, basic education, fundamental knowledge and products for feminine hygiene are still unavailable to women in rural areas. Women’s hygiene in India has always been a topic that has courted a lot of controversy and hearsay. Around 70% of all reproductive diseases in India are caused by poor menstrual hygiene and women continue to put their health, livelihood and dignity at risk. According to Mumbai-based start-up, 88 percent of women use unhygienic material such as newspapers, cloth and husk when menstruating; 70 percent of women suffer reproductive tract infections; and 23 percent of girls drop out of school when they start menstruating due to inadequate facilities at schools. This scenario has changed in the past few years with the Government of India taking a lot of active initiative in spreading awareness about the dire need for having indoor toilets in rural areas. Basic access to fresh water and continuous availability of clean toilets will help in empowering women to ensure their overall well being during menstruation or otherwise. On the other hand, women in urban areas have access to the best possible education, healthcare and sanitation. However, the notion that sanitation problems are only restricted to women in the rural areas is wrong. The average woman living in urban areas, disposes 150-200 kg of sanitary napkins, tampons etc, that eventually find their way into landfills and are burned due to their non biodegradability. The need for biodegradable feminine menstruation hygiene products is greater than ever. A Pune based NGO has highlighted the fact that sanitary napkin manufacturers need to include proper disposal measures for used sanitary napkins in order to ensure safety of waste pickers who manually separate waste. From the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao initiative to apps to locate the nearest clean toilets (Susuvidha – available for free in the android play store), the scenario for women in the country is rapidly changing. This International Women’s Day, let us pledge to better the life of our women and help them achieve the heights of greatness, that they are destined to scale.