Menstruation is a natural biological process that occurs in women of reproductive age; nonetheless, in many cultures, it is stigmatized, veiled in myths, and considered taboo. Menstruating women in isolated Himalayan communities are still separated because it is believed that menstrual blood is filthy. They are kept in the cowshed (goth) and are not permitted to socialize with others. Even though the Bageshwar district has been designated open defecation-free and every family has a toilet, menstruating women continue to defecate in the open since they are not permitted to utilize sanitary facilities used by others. Menstrual taboos influence women’s and teenage girls’ mobility, health, education, and self-esteem.
Out of all the menstruating women in India, only 36% use sanitary products during their periods. Menstrual health education is critical for girls and women to manage their menstruation in a safe, sanitary, and dignified manner. This article examines the taboos that exist in the Pindar Valley, as well as how women and adolescent girls cope with their periods.
As you know, National Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated on May 28 every year but do you know why? The day is marked on May 28 since menstrual cycles last an average of 28 days, and people menstruate on an average of five days per month (The fifth month of the year is May). It is celebrated to destigmatize menstruation so that women can menstruate without being excluded, feeling fear or shame, experiencing anxiety or guilt, being treated differently, or having more vulnerabilities revealed. It also increases awareness of period poverty which is the inability to afford the menstrual supplies required to manage menstrual health and cleanliness with dignity.
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Here are some of the reasons why menstrual hygiene education is so important.
Remove Social Stigma
Menstruation is considered taboo in many civilizations, and menstruating girls and women experience discrimination, social exclusion, and shame. Menstrual hygiene education can help dispel myths and misconceptions about menstruation while encouraging acceptance and understanding.
Increase Confidence and Self Esteem
Menstrual hygiene education helps girls and women feel more confident and at ease with their periods. This, in turn, can boost their self-esteem, reduce worry and stress, and enable them to partake in more social, educational, and economic activities.
Promote Health and Hygiene
Menstrual hygiene practices like changing menstrual products regularly, washing hands before and after handling menstrual products, and keeping the genital area clean can help prevent infections and other health issues like bacterial vaginosis, urinary tract infections, and reproductive tract infections.
Finally, menstrual hygiene education is critical to give accurate and trustworthy information about menstrual hygiene management and to foster an environment that encourages girls and women to manage their periods safely, hygienically, and with dignity.