Menstrual education needs an upgrade

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on

Arunachalam Muruganantham led a movement in India raising concerns on sanitation during periods, breaking the taboo around it in the Indian society, and created jobs for women in the process.

It’s a challenge to talk about periods without evoking negative feelings. But, something happened in 2018… A movie inspired from his life called “Pad Man” came out. After Pad Man’s trailer release, a lot of pictures floated around on social media with celebrities posing with a sanitary pad.


Photo by u5468 u5eb7 on

It’s 2005….

Pharmacies have a range of sanitary napkins on a public display, encouraging young girls and women to come forward and use it.

They are also wrapping a perfectly waterproof plastic package of sanitary napkins at sale in a newspaper as buyers are still afraid to carrying it around openly.

Menstrual education is brewing somewhere in the background but not ready yet…

I get my first period… I have no idea what it is.

Full of concern, I go to my mother and tell her something is on my underwear!

She bursts out in happiness and hugs me. Hands me a bouquet of flowers and says with a sense of pride, “You are a woman now!”.

Of course, I did not know what that meant at that time, but I got a feeling something ‘right’ had happened.

I don’t remember a whole lot, but we managed to get a napkin for me. With that, I went to school.

Looking back

I have spent so many of my school years in agony. A week full of bloody underwear and pain every month. I just tolerated what happened to me as if it was “normal”. “Story of my life” right?

I was introduced to the sanitary napkin during an educational session at school by a napkin manufacturer. Menstrual education was still at its infancy back then. Not sure if they have comprehensive and interactive sessions now, including one-to-one sessions with school girls about everything related to menstruation. We didn’t have those back then. Menstrual education needs an upgrade. Safecity has been working on this and I helped them develop educational material on sanitation and hygiene for girls of age group 12-15 years. You can help too by mentoring someone around you on this topic.

Pad Man 2.0

Even though Pad Man raised awareness on sanitation, and without sounding like a complaint box, the campaign has unknowingly sidelined the environmental impacts of sanitary napkins.

Sanitation and environmental impacts of sanitary napkins were unheard of during my time. Sanitary napkins and tampons can contain harsh chemicals and synthetic materials. Because of their disposable nature, they also creates a lot of waste.

You will find so many sanitary products out there these days. Many eco-friendly and healthier alternatives to sanitary napkins and tampons available:

Project Puchki creates awareness amongst millions of students (rural households of India) who are currently outside the ambit of fundamental education on environmental sustainability, sanitation, and menstrual hygiene.

Shashi Tharoor in his tweet: “Showing my support for the Sustainable Menstruation campaign led by a collective of Kerala women led by . Switch to reusables &recyclables, ecologically-conscious ladies!”

There is a movement happening. Let us all be a part of it.

*This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.*

7 thoughts on “Menstrual education needs an upgrade

  1. We so need to speak more and more about it. The lack of dignity associated with this because of sheer lack of awareness (and also assistance) is unbelievable. Thank you for lending you voice :)


  2. A very interesting point you have raised. It’s important to work together on all fronts rather than just one. But its also our privilege that we can choose what to use.


  3. Very well said. If your routes are strong certainly the tree will stand tall. Its the time to educate the girls about the menstural cycle to the young girls. One of the best things I see in south India is that once the girls attain puberty they celebrate here all across villages and cities. They will have a function for this.They educate their girls about this. This lacks in North India.

    Girl child can have sessions in school where they should be taught about these things as already reflected in your blog. This needs to be supported by family and friends irrespective of gender.


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