To break the taboo of discussing menstrual hygiene in public, Bollywood had to ride on the film ‘Pad Man’, helmed by superstar Akshay Kumar. This film though to some extent has eased the shyness of discussing the topic among a certain section of people, for many young girls and women living in vulnerable places such as urban slums, it still continues to be a taboo.
In a bid to address this very important issue of menstrual hygiene and create a sense of ease among young adolescent girls for discussing this topic among themselves as well as within their family, the city authorities organised a special orientation workshop titled ‘Asantu Katha Heba’ (Come, Let’s Talk), on the occasion of the World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2018. The workshop held at BMC Conference hall witnessed participation of over 100 adolescent girls from the slums of BTCD along with ASHA workers and officials of BSCL, BMC and volunteers of social organisation Humara Bachpan. Organised under Socially Smart Bhubaneswar initiative by Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited (BSCL) in collaboration with UNFPA India, the workshop was aimed at creating awareness and educating adolescent girls residing in urban slums on menstrual health and hygiene, so that they learn about the safe and healthy practices for themselves as well can act as agents of change by educating other women in their respective slums.
Conducting the workshop, Dr. Reetanjali Mishra, O&G Specialist from Unit IV Govt. Hospital and also the Secretary of Indian Medical Association, State Women’s Wing, briefed the girls on menstrual hygiene, its importance and impact on the health of girls and women. Asserting that it is very much necessary to discuss about menstrual hygiene, she elaborated on various ways of maintaining sound menstrual health among adolescent girls and women. Stating that lack of physical activity is the reason why around 60% of girls are not having regular menstruations, she advised the participants to give due importance to physical activity in their daily routine. She further advised them to eat lot of green vegetables as well as iron and folic acid tablets keeping in mind that average 50 ml of blood goes away during every menstruation cycle.
Addressing the participants, Dr. Chayanika Mishra, consultant to SC & ST Dept., Govt. of Odisha exhorted the girls to shun shyness and freely discuss such issues among friends and family. Advising the participants to follow healthy practices and use sanitary napkins to maintain good hygiene, which is very important for them as young adolescents. She also had a word of caution for proper disposal of sanitary waste to keep the environment clean. Among others Binaya K Dash, ZDC (South-East), BMC, Bijay K Swain, GM (Operation), BSCL were present on the occasion.
A special Menstruation Hygiene Kit comprising a poster and a brochure describing menstruation health and hygiene, a sanitary towel, sanitary napkin, a bottle of liquid sanitary wash etc. was presented to each participants.
Speaking on the learnings at the workshop Class X student of Press Colony High School Usha Bisoyi from Shantinagar slum said “I came to know from this program that we have to follow hygiene and keep ourselves clean to be healthy. Also the myth of not to cook or not to touch anyone at this time is false, which is good to know and I will also tell my other friends about it”.
Echoing her sentiments Class IX student from Govt. High School, Sahed Nagar said “I will go and tell my mother what all I have learnt in this workshop. This type of workshop is good as it now makes us aware about the fact that menstruation is not a bad thing. I will share it with other girls younger to me so that they also can be made aware about it beforehand.”