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Women's Day Special

Women’s Day 2021: “I Have Never Owned Underpants, So How Could I Use A Sanitary Pad?”

Owing to their on ground work in Uttarakhand, NGO SheWings realised that the major barrier faced by women in accessing menstrual hygiene products, is not having undergarments

Women's Day Special: "I Have Never Owned Underpants, So How Could I Use A Sanitary Pad?"
  • For #DonateOldBraPanty, people can donate undergarments for women in need
  • These undergarments are dry cleaned and sterilised before donating
  • To be able to use a sanitary pad, we need undergarments: Beneficiary

New Delhi: 30-year-old Pushpa lives in a slum in Dehradun in Uttarakhand. She works as a housemaid and lives in a joint family of 5 people sharing a small space of 15 square metres. Being in a slum their shanty has no space for an individual toilet. But since 2018 the family now has access to a community toilet built under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, located 5 minutes away. Pushpa is grateful for the toilet that saves her the ignominy of defecating in the open; she particularly recounts the trouble she had during her periods during those days.

Lack of access to a proper toilet is only one of the hindrances for women like Pushpa to practice menstrual hygiene. It is a widely known fact that almost 70 per cent of the menstruating women in India can’t afford to buy sanitary napkins.

Pushpa used to use cloth during her periods, and like Pushpa they use rags, dirty cloths, etc.

Also Read: Here’s How France, New Zealand And Scotland Are Aiming To Eliminate Period Poverty And What Can India Do

SheWings, an NGO has been working on the ground to provide menstrual hygiene management kits to the women living in slums, in tier 2 and tier 3 parts of Uttarakhand for the last six years. The NGO is focused towards educating women and men about menstrual health and hygiene. But when it came to distributing menstrual hygiene kits to someone like Pushpa, the NGO workers realised there was a major a issue. Like Pushpa revealed,

I needed undergarments more than pads. I have never owned underpants, so how could I use a pad?

So many of these women can’t even afford to buy undergarments. Members of SheWings realised that the major barrier faced by these girls and women in accessing menstrual hygiene products, is not just that they can’t afford pads but also that they don’t have undergarments.

With our work, we realised that the underprivileged females living in Uttarakhand had access to only single pair of undergarments, which were either shared among different family members, while sometimes the females owned nothing at all, Madan Mohit Bhardwaj, Founder SheWings tells NDTV.

Also Read: How Did A Jharkhand District End Up Growing 5,000 Trees Through An Initiative To Promote Safe Use Of Sanitary Pads?

With the aim to fill this gap, SheWings with the help of Uttarakhand Police Family Welfare Association started the initiative called #DonateOldBraPanty. As the name suggests, under the initiative, volunteers from the NGO requested women from more privileged sections of the society to donate their old or misfit undergarments.

These undergarments are dry cleaned and sterilised, which are then donated to the underprivileged.

SheWings and Uttarakhand Police Family Welfare Association are donating these undergarments as part of their menstrual hygiene management kit, which includes a pack of sanitary pad, vaginal wipes, pair of undergarment, and aloe vera hand rub among other personal hygiene items, Mr Bharadwaj explained.

Mr Bharadwaj explained that the organisation is reaching out to as many people as they can, but the need of the hour is to create awareness about this issue to help girls and women across the nation.

We aim to uplift the living standard of these females, along with trying to make menstrual hygiene accessible for them. This campaign started in the month of November and till now we have gathered approximately 30-35 thousand pair of undergarments, which are being donated to those in need, Mr Bharadwaj said.

38-year old Savita Devi from Aghapur village said,

SheWings has really helped us. Women need undergarments, to be able use use sanitary napkins. Thank you #DonateOldBraPanty

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene


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