Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is one of the critical challenges that adolescent girls face.
The beneficial link between female education and lifetime health has never been in doubt; a better-educated girl takes better control of her life. She has healthier and fewer children. Moreover, educated women participate in the labor market and eventually lift households out of poverty, with these benefits transmitting across generations.
Conversely, low education, poor health, and nutrition have a magnified impact on the next generation, as malnourished girls become mothers at higher risk of maternal mortality, and of bearing low birth-weight babies.
One of the reasons the benefits to society of educated girls are not accruing is because communities have been slow in removing manacles such as the inaccessibility of sanitary protection, the social taboos related to menstruation, and the culture of silence that surrounds menstruation, especially in schools.
Lack of access to sanitary protection and towels disempowers girls, as they have to stay at home to avoid staining their clothes with blood in public. The cost of sanitary ware and towels is beyond the reach of many young women and girls, with most ending up missing school altogether during their menses.
In India as per the latest survey made in the last several years, over 80% of women still do not have access to adequate sanitary protection during menstruation. Feminine hygiene and menstruation are a sensitive topic and is not discussed openly, which is why women often continue to harbor myths and misconceptions about it since no one from the family or friend circle is able to educate them. Additionally, mothers are often not in a position to guide their daughters correctly, since their own knowledge is limited. Over time, unhygienic practices due to low awareness and education levels can adversely impact the health and productivity of these women. As per the report appearing in Economic Times dated 10th of February 2016 “In India, 80% of 355 million Women come under house arrest for an occurrence as common as menstruation, because brands in the market are available at price affordable only to remaining 12% of menstruating women.
Today, almost every household will have at least one woman or girl who suffers from irregularities in her menstrual cycle, but the reported cases will be few due to the stigma associated with talking openly about the red-letter day.
The United Nation Population Fund in their report on 05.01.2016 has also considered the menstrual cycle management as a question of human right. When girls stay away from schools because they fear shame attributed to their menstruation or because they don’t have the means to maintain healthy hygiene this must be considered as a human right violation. Girls must no longer continue using old rags, towels, paper from their school books or even sand or leaves to manage their bleeding.
We are quite confident that society will have more educated girls who apart from supplementing the family income will also help curb the population.
As per the latest survey published in a leading newspaper with more girls reaching higher levels of education the average number of children born to them after they get married is falling. The survey says that mothers who were deprived of education in their early life & have married as illiterate had 3.8 children on an average while others with a graduate degree or above had just 1.9 children.