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‘Only half of young women in Madhya Pradesh use hygienic protection during menstruation’

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Senior Correspondent

BHOPAL: Over 180 participants including youth groups, adolescents and representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) joined an activation meet organised by the UNICEF, Madhya Pradesh office, on an online platform on Monday, ahead of the Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28.

During the meeting, the participants vowed to create awareness on menstrual hygiene and break stigma on the issue of menstruation in the run up to the day. These youngsters will also share photographs with ‘red dot’ – a representation of breaking the silence on the issue.   

Speaking at the meet Margaret Gwada, Chief of UNICEF Madhya Pradesh said that 'Menstruation is a natural biological process yet surrounded by taboos, myths and misconceptions across the globe. According  to NFHS (5) data, only 53.4 percent of rural women in Madhya Pradesh in age 15-24 use hygienic methods of protection during their menstrual periods, as compared to 72% in India.”

Gwada further said that there is a need to ensure that adolescent girls and women have sustained access to safe sanitary absorbents and hygienic facilities. These should be affordable, according to their choice, safe to dispose of and biodegradable.

“Boys and men are a critical ally to moving this agenda forward. UNICEF applauds the efforts of the government of Madhya Pradesh for the roll out of its roadmap on menstrual hygiene management and its integration into the various departmental schemes. UNICEF commits its continued support to the State of MP on its interventions to break the silence and increase access to sanitary products,” Gwada said.

 Speaking at the meet were adolescents Anjali from Damoh and Sonam from Bhopal shared the challenge of myths and taboos they see around them on the issue of menstruation, and called for increased awareness, more engagement of boys and need to break the stigma on the issue. 

Pankaj Mathur, WASH Specialist said that the menstrual hygiene day raises awareness, challenges women and girls face around the world and highlights solutions that address these solutions.

Jennifer Selvaraj, menstrual hygiene expert spoke to the participants on: what is menstruation, need of menstrual hygiene management, safe disposal, key challenges on menstrual hygiene and safe management, myths, misconception, social norms, and role of key stakeholders. 

Anil Gulati, Communication Specialist, and Jhimly Baruah SBCC Specialist, UNICEF, Madhya Pradesh spoke on the plan for community outreach to mark MH day and social media engagement plan for the week.   

Nageshwar Patidar, WASH Officer, Advaita Marathe, Child Protection Officer participated in the meet and answered questions from the participants. 

Representatives from World Vision, Ayan Welfare, Neovision, Child Rights Observatory and its network, Vasudha Sansthan, Muskan, Raws India, Aarambh, Uday Welfare, Mamta, Bachpan, Polaris Foundation and Institute of Livelihood Research participated in this meet.