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Comprehensive Strategy Proposed to Improve Menstrual Health Management in prisons of India with Project Shakti says Kiran Bedi

 Comprehensive Strategy Proposed to Improve Menstrual Health Management in prisons of India with Project Shakti says Kiran Bedi

On International Menstrual Hygiene Day, Chief Guest Dr. Kiran Bedi, Former Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry & Founder, India Vision Foundation talked about Menstruation management in India that faces several challenges and conditions that impact the well-being of women and girls at the ASSOCHAM  3rd Menstrual Hygiene Management Conference-cum-Awards. 

Many prisons lack adequate sanitary facilities, such as clean and private toilets, running water, and proper disposal systems for menstrual waste. Focus should be on adding more incinerators to avoid any menstrual waste and more machines should be applied for sanitary pads. Concerning the availability of menstruation supplies in jails, she voiced her worries and demanded prompt action. Talking about the Mudra Scheme of Govt of India and Menstrual Hygiene Scheme of India is a gateway to have state-oriented approach to combat challenges and build an ecosystem safer for women. Different Stakeholders and NGOs should work together to break the silence around menstruation, educate communities, and provide access to affordable menstrual products, she added. 

Spark Minda Foundation, India Vision Foundation, BharatCares and ASSOCHAM launched Menstrual Hygiene Management Project Shakti in Prisons of Uttar Pradesh. 

Dr. Huma Masood, Senior Gender Specialist, UNESCO India focused on reaching young and school-going girls to eradicate the shame, heavy stigma, and misconception that menstruation carries. She further conveyed that 1 out of 5 girls in India drop out of school due to lack of menstrual education and access to sanitary products. The chapter on period education has been missing from schools, families and communities resulting in 71% girls not knowing about periods when they first get it.

Menstrual hygiene products are frequently in low supply in rural and remote locations, and distribution networks are insufficient, according to Ms. Urvashi Prasad, Director, Office of Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, GoI. She also emphasized that men should be conscious of the shame associated with menstruation. In informal workspaces, women should feel safe and able to exercise their fundamental rights. The National Health Survey reports a 20% rise in awareness.

Mrs. Neha Jain, IAS, Special Secretary, IT & Electronics, Government of Uttar Pradesh in her special address showcased development and distribution of low-cost sanitary pads, menstrual cups, and biodegradable options are being promoted to enhance accessibility and environmental sustainability. Continued advocacy for policies that support menstrual health management and address gender disparities is essential.

Mr. Anil Rajput, Chairperson, ASSOCHAM National CSR Council and President, Corporate Affairs, ITC gave his welcome address by saying that Menstruation is often considered a taboo subject in many parts of India. Cultural beliefs and myths perpetuate silence and shame around the topic, preventing open discussion and education. He said Menstruating women and girls may face various restrictions, which can lead to feelings of isolation and discrimination. He added 22.7% of women and girls cannot afford sanitary products due to high costs, leading them to use unhygienic alternatives like old cloths.

Ms. Trine Sig, Sales Director, Real Relief India Pvt. Ltd expressed that 1 in every 4 women miss out to afford sanitary napkins.  There is a significant gap in menstrual health education. Many girls are unprepared for menarche and lack basic knowledge about menstrual hygiene. Inadequate facilities and social stigma can lead to girls missing school during their menstrual periods, impacting their education and future opportunities.

Ms. Dnyan Shah, Co-Chairperson, ASSOCHAM National Empowerment Council and SVP, Global Head - NextOps, Corporate Support, Employee Experience & Engagement, DEI, Mphasis shared due to Economic disparities, women from lower-income families struggle more with accessing safe menstrual products. 

Dr. Blossom Kochhar, Co-Chairperson, ASSOCHAM National Wellness Council and Chairperson, Aroma Magic Pvt. Ltd. gave vote of thanks and spread awareness about affordability and access to menstrual products. 

The event concluded with Award ceremony presented by chief guest Kiran Bedi in the categories of Most Innovative Product in Menstrual Hygiene, Maximum Impact by a CSR Initiative in  Menstrual Hygiene-Corporate & PSUs; Maximum Impact by a CSR Initiative  in Menstrual Hygiene-NGOs; Menstrual Hygiene Management  Champion of the Year (from organization). 

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