28 May 2021: Menstrual Hygiene Day: How 'Pad Man' kick-started conversation around menstruation
Menstruation is still a taboo topic, even among the educated community. And menstrual hygiene, which is extremely crucial for a woman's health, is thus often ignored in this avoidance. In order to break the stigma and spread awareness, Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) is observed annually on this day. Bollywood too gave a conversation-starter in the form of Pad Man in 2018.
Story: What was 'Pad Man' all about?
To refresh your memory, Pad Man saw Akshay Kumar play a character based on social activist Arunachalam Muruganantham, who produces a low-cost sanitary pad making machine. Kumar comes face-to-face with the stigma, pain, and difficulties associated with menstruation after his marriage. But his bid to ease out troubles for his wife (Radhika Apte) makes him an enemy of society. Sonam Kapoor played Kumar's confidante.
Issue: Was first mainstream film to bring menstrual problems into limelight
Sanitary pads are still luxury items instead of being a necessity. Women and girls, especially in poor, rural areas depend on cotton cloths, sand, and ash instead of a pad. This is highly dangerous for their body. Moreover, menstruators are forced to alienate themselves during their menstruation, further hampering their day-to-day life. Pad Man was the first mainstream movie to center around these issues.
Inspiration: The movie inspired many to be Pad Men/Women
Not only did the movie become a blockbuster, but also acted as a catalyst for real steps. Inspired by Muruganantham's story, women of Jammu and Kashmir started making low-cost sanitary pads, with assistance from the Rural and Development department. Also, the ASMITA scheme was launched in Maharashtra, where one could buy a year's supply of sanitary napkins for rural people at Rs. 182.40.
Action ahead: It's time to rip off literal and figurative black covers
As per the National Family Health Survey-4 2015-2016, only 121 million women in India use sanitary napkins of the total 336 million. About 71% of adolescent girls weren't even aware of periods, until they started menstruating. Most men never gain basic knowledge about such an integral process. We can't afford such ignorance anymore. It's time we rip off the literal and figurative black covers.
Dos: Steps of tips you can take to improve menstrual hygiene
To maintain proper menstrual hygiene, girls and women must keep a few things in mind: -Change pads/tampons after every four/five hours. -Take rest, avoid physically draining activities. -Bathe regularly and wash the intimate area every time you visit the toilet. -Wash stained underwear immediately as it won't be healthy to wear them. -Family members must also see that these conditions are met.
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