For the last four years, ethereal beauty Manushi Chhillar has been relentlessly working towards raising awareness on menstrual hygiene in India through her non-profit advocacy platform Project Shakti. This year, on Menstrual Hygiene Day, Manushi has been roped in by UNICEF to raise awareness on the issue in India.
Manushi, who made India proud by winning the Miss World crown 17 years after Priyanka Chopra bagged the honour, says, “Poor menstrual hygiene affects the health and wellbeing of women and especially girls, but we don’t very often discuss this. The existing culture of silence, misinformation and harmful myths around menstruation denies many girls the future and opportunities that they deserve.”
Poor menstrual health continues to be a cause of concern due to the lack of education on the issue, persisting taboos, and stigma, limited access to hygienic menstrual products, and poor sanitation infrastructure, that often undermines educational opportunities, health, and overall social status of women and girls in India and around the world. Too many girls are missing out on the future they deserve because of the culture of silence, mis-information and harmful myths around menstruation.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated menstruation-related challenges for women and girls such as the disruption of access to sanitary products and correct information on periods and more.
Manushi adds, “COVID-19, lockdowns and safety precautions have disrupted access to sanitary products, adding to the challenges they face. We need to speak up to dispel menstruation-related taboos and stigma, sensitize men and boys to be supportive of girls; and support availability of essential sanitary products for girls and women in times of crisis.”
UNICEF is advocating for the following objectives this year and Manushi too will work on these through her social media platforms that has a captivated youth audience base.
- Girls to receive menstrual hygiene education before they get their first period
- Sensitizing men and boys to be understanding and supportive
- Access to safe spaces and products to manage their periods
- Dispel the taboos and open conversations about periods
- Increase investment in menstrual health and hygiene
- All women and girls should be able to manage their menstruation hygienically, safely, in privacy, and with dignity.