In many cultural societies, menstruation is considered a taboo, enveloped by silence and shrouded in misconceptions. Menstruation is not openly talked about and many females lack knowledge on the subject. Yet, awareness on menstrual hygiene and menstruation is evolving as a pivotal issue for development, gender equality, and human rights. Humans, amongst a very few mammals, are blessed with this biological process. Menstruation perpetuates humanity, and it should be celebrated, rather than being shameful about it. This article highlights how menstrual awareness has helped the transition of menstruation-related topics from being a taboo to an important aspect for women empowerment.
Since ages, menstruation is seen as something unclean, impure, and disgusting. Religious and cultural beliefs are amongst the major factors contributing to myths associated with menstruation. Religious books of all major religions describe menstruation as something impure. This, in turn, has turned the topic of a biological process into something that is shameful and disgusting.
What is menstruation? This is a question that is rarely talked about especially in public. Girls are hushed by their mothers when they ask this question, as females are not comfortable talking about it with their own daughters. Women are prohibited from daily activities during menstruation, like entering the kitchen, visiting a temple, performing puja, or touching a holy book. People consider that menstruation is unhygienic, and can contaminate food if a menstruating woman touches it. As a matter of fact, if hygienic measures are taken, no one can prove that menstruation is unhygienic or impure. This lack of knowledge, myths, and embarrassment create a negative perception of menstruation in the minds of many females.
The main downside of myths associated with menstruation is health and environmental hazards. Menstrual awarenessacts as a bridge between a lack of knowledge and menstrual hygiene. As females are unaware of the biological process of menstruation, they do not know how to maintain hygiene during those days. Surprisingly, women of the 21st era are still using cloth and dry leaves to absorb the blood flow instead of a sanitary pad. Methods of disposal are unknown to them, and for many women, basic measures of hygiene are not available like private toilets, water and soap, and dustbins. Health impact of unhygienic practices is immense, causing reproductive tract infections.
It is an accepted fact that women are an essential part of a successful society, and only through empowering and supporting women, can a society truly be strong. Girls are confused at menarche and lack of information, shyness, and non-availability of menstrual waste disposal facilities forces them to avoid school. In rural areas, majority school dropouts are when a girl starts getting periods. Lack of knowledge creates gender inequality and low confidence level in females. True women empowerment comes only when a female is healthy and educated.
Having said this, menstruation hygiene awareness is changing the female’s perception of menstruation. They now consider it as an affirmation to femininity and womanhood. Despite the mask of secrecy shrouding menstruation, menstruation hygiene management acts as a powerful entry point for women empowerment, dismisses myths, and removes restrictions
Menstruation is often looked upon as a subject of disgust and considered a taboo. Religious and cultural belief is a major cause that fuels this ideology. Many myths and misconceptions about menstruation result in a negative perception about the subject, and a lack of menstrual hygiene is its major drawback. Menstrual awareness bridges this gap and paves a path for women empowerment.