Hyderabad, May , 2019: The one day seminar, ‘Menstrual Festival‘, with the theme ‘Celebrate The Blood’, was hosted on the eve of Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28th), by Good Universe – a Society of social workers, professionals, health care specialists & young likeminded people, on Sunday at Sarath City Capital Mall. The Festival was to celebrate periods and bring in a change in the society’s mindset towards it. As part of the Festival a seminar to engage different stakeholders involved in menstrual hygiene, in a conversation on menstruation, women’s reproductive health and hygiene, was organised.
‘Menstrual Festival’ hosted on the eve of Menstrual Hygiene Day, to sensitise the society & celebrate periods!
The Festival was attended by Mr Sudhakar Rao, Director ICFAI; Dr Prabha Agrawal, Gynaecologist, and Mr. Kamalakanta Nayak, Founder Good Universe; Dr Anusha Pilli and Ms Triparna Banerjee Co-Founders, Menstrual Festival; Mr Arun Kumar, CEO, Elemantra Enterprises Pvt. Ltd; Ms Sapna Karthik, Vice Chairperson HYLC; Ms Mahalakshmi. B, Hyderabad Ambassador Eco Femme; Dr Mamatha; Exicutive Director Tharuni; and Ms Anju Arora, Co-Founder The Period Hud; among others.
In the era of rational thinking and scientific developments, the taboo associated with menstruation, lack of knowledge on menstrual health and hygiene and the perpetual silence surrounding the associated risks on women’s health and well being, is perturbing. It is extremely dismal to see that dialogue on menstruation, access of menstrual hygiene and women’s sexual-reproductive health, is still hushed up and often swept under the carpet. The Menstrual festival is an initiative to bring all the stake holders on a platform and devise ways to break this silence and change the narrative of taboos around menstruation.
Mr Arun Kumar said, menstrual waste disposal is the biggest challenge being faced by the society and its is becoming insurmountable and burgeoning problem by the day with more and more of it piling up. Especially in the cities it is becoming a menace and can be a larger social issue in the days to come. In the absence of proper disposal mechanism, flushing down the toilet is the easiest solution resorted to dispose in the urban areas, but this leads to choking of the drains or it settling in a water body into which the drain empties, leading to pollution of the lake, infecting all flora and fauna and other health hazards associated with them. The other option is throwing it in the bin, but the sanitary workers or the animals digging into the waste can get infected and spread it. Today’s pads are made of different materials, some are made of biodegradable material which don’t cause much harm to the environment, but the gels or polymers used in some are not destructible and take 40 to 50 years to disintegrate if left like that. The only way to get rid of it is total destruction of menstrual waste and the best way to do that is by burning. However burning it in the open is not safe, because it leads to pollution and the heat at which it is burnt is just around 500 to 6000, at that temperature the pathogens and harmful bacteria don’t get eliminated. The ash left behind is harmful, the sanitation workers handling it can catch an infection. Therefore it needs to be destroyed scientifically in an incinerator, which has a controlled combustion and can have a burning temperature of 9000. At that temperature the bacteria and pathogens get destroyed and the ash from it is safe and sterile to handle.
Dr Anusha Pilli said, a survey done by Good Universe with a sample of five hundred educated women, found that 92% of them use commercial pads and the frequency of changing the pad is just about twice a day, which is really dangerous and harmful for their personal health. Also the menstrual waste is not being disposed properly. The survey also focussed on disposal of menstrual, it was found that the sanitary workers who collect waste from residences and dump yards, find the menstrual waste to be the most loathsome to pick-up and when they are left at the municipal dumps, the animals feed on them and contract infections, which in turn are passed on to human beings. Also the plastic lining in the commercial pads is indigestible for animals, proving to be fatal to them.
Ms Sapna Karthik said, today there are lots of menstrual product alternatives available in the market, but reusable pads are recommended over others, though it has challenges like drying it, with little personal space in urban areas, with taboo associated in they being dried in open space. But reusable pads are very economical and easy on maintenance. As against rural women who have invented sustainable menstrual options and opt for them, the urban women have very limited options.
Mr Sudhakar Rao said, the prevailing perception about menstruation has to be changed, by sweeping the topic under the carpet we are not going to change it and will not move any forward. We need to talk, open up the conversation on it, to make it a normal thing like any other subject.
Dr Prabha Agrawal said, the plastic used in pads can lead to various infections and health problems and also lead to infertility in women. Most girls don’t have access to sex education and healthy habits, therefore health education should be made compulsory as part of our school curriculum. This is leading to we adopting all unhygienic habits and causing various health problems in women. To make pads more absorbable, plastic is being used rampantly, this can cause havoc to our body and environment. Plastic can disrupt hormonal and endocrinal balance and can cause infections, infertility and even cancers.
The Seminar initiated a dialogue on menstruation and women’s reproductive health with the objective of shattering the myths associated with menstruation. It emphasised on the fact that it is more of a natural biological phenomenon. The Seminar brought together change makers, opinion leaders, social enterprises, corporate leaders, government stakeholders and artists working in the field of menstrual health & hygiene management from all over the country on one platform, to engage them in a conversation aimed to impact and bring about change in the society’s perception of menstruation. The deliberations were on varied topics like Past, Present and Future of Menstruation, Sanitary Solutions and Menstrual Waste Management, Sustainable Menstrual Practices; Food and Women’s Health etc.
Later an Art showcase with the theme of menstruation and women’s health was hosted with live art, music, art exhibition and photography,.
Menstrual Festival is an initiative of Good Universe and is powered by Hibiscus India; supported by Elemantra Enterprises Pvt Ltd, Telangana and Social Impact Group(T-SIG); digital media partner is Momspresso and Suman TV; cause partners are Eco Femme, Rubaroo, Global shaper community, Aviva Method, Ladies Circle; goodie partner is Sweetooth and beauty partner is Marie Claire, Banjara Hills.