Menstrual Hygiene Day 2020

Lubna Ismailee

28th May is observed as Menstrual Hygiene Day. The day is celebrated with a view to raise awareness and amplify the challenges that women face during their periods.

We firmly believe that issues associated with it are multifold. One of them addressed here include the taboos attached with periods.

We all know that women bleed but still our society is hesitant to talk about periods. In a survey conducted by us, we found that a significant number of males and females use words like female issue and girls’ problem to address periods while talking to the opposite sex about it.

Girls usually designate a code word such as pp, tank, fishy day, bloody Mary etc. to discuss menstruation among themselves. For a significant number of people periods is too intimate. They feel comfortable to discuss it with the opposite sex only if they are their partners.

Many people were of the view that periods is a personal thing and keeping it personal is not equivalent to tabooing it. We found that boys on the other hand are not comfortable talking openly about it because they think that it is something that is exclusively girls’ business. In fact, some of them consider such conversations unnecessary.

However, everything is attached to just getting to talk. In this blog, I shall be addressing the same.

The question that arises is why is it imperative to talk periods openly; why is it so important to break the stigma that sticks with periods and how your voice can bring a change?

There is a lack of awareness among people regarding menstruation. It is considered an impurity, a disease. There is lack of toilets in schools and workspaces. Many public toilets are poorly maintained. Not a significant population in India has access to menstrual hygiene products.

Moreover, most of the menstrual hygiene products are non-biodegradable, which is detrimental for the environment.

In India,

Only 12% of women use sanitary napkins,

88% of women resort to unhygienic methods to manage their periods; *

71% of adolescent girls remain unaware of periods till menarche; **

70% of mothers with menstruating daughters, consider periods as dirty,

62% of adolescent girls do not talk about periods with their mother because of the taboo,

23 million girls drop out of school early as they start menstruating. ***

Hence, it is vital to talk about periods. In our nation, many girls are unaware that periods is a biological process. They think the treatment they receive during periods is justified as it is a disease, and they are impure in those days of the month.

Various studies have shown that girls drop out of school not necessarily because of lack of toilets and sanitation but to avoid talking about periods. They lack access to proper sanitary products. Due to lack of water facilities, it is difficult for the rural women (who mostly use cloth) to wash and maintain hygiene while menstruating.

They are hesitant to answer what if a stain mark is seen on my uniform? How will they acknowledge that it is because of periods.

Elders do not talk to young adolescent girls regarding this openly and hence, most of them feel that blood out of their vagina is abnormal.

The stigma related to periods must break as talking about periods openly will also sensitize men. Especially adolescent boys who troll girls who are spotted with a stain on their uniform or are back from a menstrual hygiene workshop at school.

The commercial sanitary pad ads that try to portray that women jump from buses, get a job, go on a trip during their periods and bleed blue are problematic as they are unrealistic. It fails to create awareness.

Most young boys are of the view that women use a pad to pee. Schools are clearly failing to impart knowledge about menstruation despite having it included in their curriculum.

The Youth Is Our Future

We have considerably low number of women policymakers. Hence, we have smaller number of schemes to further the cause of menstrual health and hygiene. Even the existing schemes are unheard of because they are not advertised as other schemes related to pension, poverty, housing etc. If the people in power, especially women, take steps to talk about periods more boldly, we will have more advocated schemes.

Such measures could lead to the free distribution of sanitary pads just like the distribution of condoms in mohalla clinics. Similarly, sanitary pads would be available in all the railway stations and bus stops. The power of people’s voice lead to the scrapping off of 12% GST on sanitary pads when condoms were tax-free. Your actions today is India tomorrow.

Your Voice Matters

No one is too small to make a difference - Greta Thunberg

Our campaign is all about getting people to talk about periods. We will be able to achieve the same only when people openly tell their stories, incidents or experiences about the same. This includes the thought of boys and people of other genders.

We need to have more open conversations. For this we cannot ignore the narrative of those who are not comfortable talking periods or those who taboo it.

So, if you are one among those who strongly believe in the advocacy of menstrual health and hygiene, or if you are one of those who is not comfortable discussing the same, come aboard with us on the journey of revolution.

Be a part of the campaign and share your thoughts. With the development of our society the narratives regarding various issues are changing. For instance, sex is less tabooed now.

There are government initiatives that advocate family planning and distributes free condoms. Also, the entertainment industry does not hide the meeting of two awful flowers in order to indicate intimacy. We have movies and series where masturbation is normalized. Movies like Padman are a positive move by Bollywood in the direction of breaking this taboo.

However, there is a long way to go. I do not know how long the topic of periods will have to wait in the queue to be addressed by government and masses. All this boils down to not talking periods. To make the move towards frank conversations which consider this issue seriously, we must start from somewhere.

This campaign is brought to you by Naari-MUSS. Naari is the GirlUp Club of MUSS.

Take part in the discussion and share your experience with us.

You can fill this form here or email us with your thoughts at

With your consent, we will be featuring your story along with your photograph on our website and social media pages.

* Ministry of Health

** UNICEF’s 2014 report on menstrual hygiene in India

*** a 2014 report by NGO- Dasara