Context: A draft menstrual hygiene policy is out by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Need for Menstrual Hygiene Policy policy
- Health and Hygiene: Poor menstrual hygiene can lead to various health issues, including infections and discomfort. According to 5th NHFS (2019-2021):
- Women aged 15-24 years who use a hygienic method of protection during their menstrual cycle is 78%. Among these women, 64% use sanitary napkins, 50% use cloth, and 15% use locally prepared napkins.
- Only 73% of rural women while 90% of urban women use a hygienic method of menstrual protection respectively.
- However, a few States continue to have lower than average access to use of a hygienic method of menstrual protection by women and girls.
- Dignity and empowerment: Access to proper menstrual hygiene products and facilities is a matter of dignity and basic human rights. It is essential to ensure that individuals can manage their menstruation with dignity, without feeling ashamed.
- Gender equality: Menstruation is associated with stigma and discrimination, leading to gender inequality. A menstrual hygiene policy can help challenge these social norms and promote gender equality by addressing issues related to menstruation.
- Accessibility and affordability: A policy can promote the availability and affordability of menstrual hygiene products.
- Promote work participation: By creating a more inclusive and supportive environment like, may include flexible working hours, access to sanitary products, and menstrual leave. It will reduce absenteeism and increase productivity and higher work participation rates.
- Access to education: By providing essential menstrual hygiene products and support, schools and institutions can help remove barriers that might otherwise prevent girls from attending classes.
About draft Menstrual Hygiene Policy
- Menstrual hygiene is the practice of maintaining cleanliness and managing menstruation in a safe and healthy way. It is important for the well-being and dignity of individuals who menstruate. Proper menstrual hygiene management helps prevent infections, discomfort, and allows individuals to continue their daily activities without disruption.
- Ministry of Health and Family Welfare(MoHFW) is the Nodal Ministry for the Menstrual hygiene policy.
- The policy recognizes menstruation as a natural bodily process for all who menstruate including girls and women of reproductive age and addresses the long-standing challenges associated with menstruation in our country.
- By adopting a life cycle approach, the policy ensures comprehensive support through the entire menstrual journey, recognizing the unique needs of individuals from menarche to menopause.
- Specific focus on prioritising underserved and vulnerable populations, ensuring equitable access to menstrual hygiene resources and addressing their specific needs.
- This policy aligns with India’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in relation to Goal 3 on good health and well-being, Goal 4 on quality education, Goal 5 on gender equality, and Goal 6 on clean water and sanitation.
- The policy will serve as a catalyst to raise awareness, challenge societal norms and foster a society that embraces menstrual hygiene as a natural and normal part of life.
- All women, girls and persons who menstruate are able to experience menstruation in a manner that is safe, healthy and free from stigma.
- Each girl, woman and person who menstruates across India can access safe and dignified menstrual hygiene resources in order to improve their quality of life and thereby realize their full potential in health and wellbeing, education, economic and other aspects of life.
- The policy caters to the needs of and covers all who menstruate in rural, urban and tribal areas, as well as in educational institutions, workplaces, healthcare settings and other public places.
- To ensure that women, girls and persons who menstruate have access to safe, hygienic and quality menstrual products and sanitation facilities.
- To create an enabling environment for people including women, girls, men and boys so that they have access to correct information on menstruation, and to address myths, stigma and gender issues around menstruation.
- To provide a coordination mechanism among different Central Government Ministries, States/ UTs and relevant stakeholders and sectors.
- To create a ‘menstrual friendly environment’ in all settings including homes, schools/ educational institutions, workplaces and public spaces.
- To foster innovative practices with social entrepreneurs and the private sector.
- To strengthen environmentally sustainable menstrual waste disposal.
- Ensure access to affordable and safe menstrual hygiene products: To ensure affordable and accessible menstrual products such as disposable or reusable sanitary pads, menstrual cups, tampons or reusable cloth pads, etc are available to all who menstruate, especially those in low-income communities and marginalized groups.
- Promote quality standards and regulatory framework: Develop and implement comprehensive quality standards for different types of menstrual hygiene products available in the market to ensure their safety, efficacy and reliability.
- Availability of clean and dignified menstrual hygiene facilities: Promote the development and improvement of menstrual-friendly infrastructure in homes, educational institutions, workplaces and public spaces to include safe, clean and private toilets, proper waste disposal systems and handwashing facilities with soap and clean water.
- Promotion of education and awareness on menstrual hygiene: Awareness campaigns targeting menstruators to provide accurate information including options of products available, debunk myths and misconceptions and address social and gender-related challenges associated with menstruation.
- Collaboration with Non-government sector/engagement with private sector: Support research and development initiatives that explore new technologies, materials and product designs which improve menstrual hygiene management, while considering accessibility, ease of use, affordability and environmental sustainability.
- Foster research and innovation in menstrual hygiene management: Encourage research institutes and academia to contribute to evidence-based policymaking, promote innovation and improve the overall understanding and implementation of menstrual hygiene practices.