Menstruation has always been the talk of the town
Plethora of campaigns, awareness drives and media reports aside, menstruation continues to be a taboo across the societal pyramid. Result? Women continue to encounter barrage of issues during their monthly cycle, more so in public spaces.
Feminists and other stakeholders of women empowerment are decisively launching mass awareness programs and taking to social media to propagate comprehensive understanding of menstruation as an extremely natural phenomenon. More and more open conversations are what can help expunge the age old taboo attached to this monthly cycle women go through post puberty, which in turn will help prioritize the broader issue of women health and hygiene.
Women health and hygiene remained in the back burners for ages; reason being complex and compound. One glaring factor is that most people including women find it uncomfortable to broach the subject in public. That said, the complex socio-economic issue of women’s position in society also plays a significant role in the gross neglect of women’s health in India.
Hasti and Urmi, who are team members of the Cup it up initiative launched by Leo club of Bombay uptown, Leo club of Kalyan, Leo Club of Bombay Vidyavihar, and Leo club of Bombay silver Oak came forward to talk on the initiative and throw light on how things can get better for menstruating women with the innovation they are trying to bring in.
“Be it about buying sanitary napkins or cups, many women feel uneasy while buying them. And when it comes to using cups, it is still mind block about its acceptance, as women think cups can hamper virginity. Lack of awareness is the major reason here. Moreover, there is still a part of the society who does not even use sanitary napkins, forget cups. We are trying to spread the word as much as we can because they are comfortable in wearing pads for years ,” said Hasti and Urmi while sharing the challenges they are facing in making cups more acceptable.
According to the duo menstrual cups are pocket friendly, eco friendly and re-usable for years depending on the silicon of the cup. “I guess every girl uses at least 12 to 13 pads during the menstrual period which have a part of plastic in them that cannot be recycled. The money spent buying sanitary napkins for two months is enough for purchasing reusable cups which are far more convenient. Also it will be a highly cost effective solution,” adds Urmi.
The team currently focuses on the urban areas for their initiative as they believe that, let alone rural areas, there is dearth of proper awareness about menstruation cups in cities as well. “Mindset of people in rural areas, afflicted with lack of education and awareness, is more rigid than those living in urban locales. Hence, spreading the idea of the cups in villages is rather difficult. For that first we need urban women to accept it with open minds, only then will we be able to approach the rural women. Continuous communication from all quarters is needed to make village women believe in the product. Elementary knowledge and awareness has to be inculcated amongst everyone to bring about a change,” advocates Hasti.
Tax-free sanitary napkins are what Indian women have been asking for years. Especially for rural areas, the cost of pads is a major issue to not use it which puts their hygiene at stake. The team “Cup it Up” also hopes that their innovation will work out well and women will be empowered enough to openly talk about their issues without feeling inhibited or embarrassed. For them, it is a long way to go and can only succeed with collective societal support and endeavors.