Prakriti (which incidentally means nature) is a 12 year old unsuspecting young girl, studying in a government school in the National Capital of Delhi. Her parents work in one of the upscale sprawling societies situated two blocks away from their urban slum cum municipal village which they call home in the State of Delhi.
One day when in school, Prakriti felt an unusual sensation in the lower abdomen of her body. Before she could point out the problem to her teacher, as she stood up, her friend pointed out a big red blot on the lower back of her school uniform. The teacher on taking note of the incident, informed her that this is the beginning of a monthly “hassle” that she will now have to deal with and instructed her to stay at home as long as she is on her “period”.
As advised, an anxious and disheartened Prakriti walked back home with a baffling new term and a bleeding reproductive organ. PERIOD.
On learning about her problem her mother introduced her to the monthly ordeal that it shall be for her to use, wash and reuse pieces of cloth, during her period. As for the “what”, “why” and “how” of “Period”, much to her despair, she was only told that all women bleed once a month.
That was the beginning of Prakriti’s life as a menstruating young girl in an impoverished quarter of one of the country’s richest metropolitan.
If the aforementioned can serve as any example of the expanse of the problem we are setting out to resolve, bear with us as we dig a little deeper:
A 2011 study conducted by AC Nielsen, a global survey company, found that only 12% of India’s 355 million menstruating women use sanitary napkins and that 88% of women resort to unsanitized cloth, ash and husk sand thereby causing severe reproductive health problems. Poor menstrual hygiene can cause fungal infections, Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI) and Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). Unhygienic practices also leave women vulnerable to infertility.
Incidence of RTI was 70 percent more common among women with unhygienic sanitary practices. 97 per cent gynaecologists surveyed believe that sanitary pads can act as a preventive measure against reproductive tract infection.
A packet of sanitary napkins with eight pads costs between Rs 30 and Rs 80 across India. For girls whose families have to sustain on a monthly budget of Rs 5,000- Rs 10,000, this is a financial burden they can’t afford. So even with the GST withdrawn, sanitary pads remain a luxury for some in this country. A handful of state governments have tried to tackle the challenge of menstrual health by distributing free sanitary pad packets in their government schools, however owing to the budgetary constraints, schemes intending to facilitate a basic monthly necessity remain a seasonal affair.
So while a handful of Indian women are now switching to eco-friendly alternatives such as menstrual cups, reusable sanitary pads et. al., more than half of the female population in the country is compelled to risk its health because of the poor logistics of a mere biological phenomenon.
But if we put the Economics of this aside, wouldn’t the well-educated and privileged acknowledge and endorse the fact that menstrual health and hygiene should be a matter of basic right for all our women irrespective of their financial capabilities?
So let’s hit at the root of the problem and get straight to what we can do?
Each one of us buys at least one packet of sanitary pads at least once a month, and add on to the stock of sanitary pad packets that we intend to create.
What happens next?
We at LexQuest Foundation, in association with Teach for India, will distribute these packets across government schools on a regular basis to improve the accessibility of hygienic menstrual practices among girls who have so far been compelled to use unsanitized cloth, ash and husk sand.
Why are we shying away for eco-friendly alternatives?
Mostly because at the outset, the sheer logistics of eco friendly options demand cleaning and washing, which obviously requires sufficient quantities of water, whereas the very reason that strips of cloth and rags remain unsanitized and lead to dangerously unhygienic conditions is the scarcity of water in a poor household in India. So while in the long run we would be happy to endorse eco friendly alternatives to a sanitary pad, we want to start with the most viable and effective means for our menstrual and reproductive hygiene campaign.
What is the model of contribution?
After an in-depth research and our experience as women, we have shortlisted the following brands of sanitary pads:
|Stayfree Secure||Rs 108 for 20 pads|
|Stayfree DryMax All Night||Rs 172 for 14 pads|
|Whisper Maxi Over-Night Sanitary Pads||Rs 182 for 15 pads|
|Whisper Ultra Soft||Rs 245 for 30 pads|
|Whisper Ultra Plus||Rs 270 for 30 pads|
|Whisper Ultra Over-Nights Sanitary Pads||Rs 330 for 30 pads|
Going by this list, as the cheapest packet is priced at Rs 108, we expect our donors to contribute a minimum of Rs 110. You could use any of the following methods for making a one-time or a monthly payment:
You can also contribute the money on PayTM: 9929451140
For NEFT or IMPS payments:
Account Name: LexQuest Foundation
Account Number: 918020054094282
Bank Name: Axis Bank, Malviya Nagar
In case of any queries/doubts that need resolution, feel free to call us.
Contact Number: 8448922751