- Menstrual Hygiene Day is marked on May 28 every year
- Red Dot Challenge, an annual campaign, raises awareness about menstruation
- The campaign involves sharing a black and white photo with red dot on palm
New Delhi: Every month, 1.8 billion people across the world menstruate. Millions of these girls, women, transgender men and non-binary persons are unable to manage their menstrual cycle in a dignified, healthy way, states UNICEF. “Even in the best of times, gender inequality, discriminatory social norms, cultural taboos, poverty and lack of basic services often cause menstrual health and hygiene (MHH) needs to go unmet. In emergencies, these deprivations can be exacerbated. The result is far-reaching negative impacts on the lives of those who menstruate, including restricting mobility, freedom and choices; reducing participation in school, work and community life; compromising safety; and causing stress and anxiety”, states UNICEF’s brief on mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 and menstrual health and hygiene.
As per UNICEF, reduced accessibility of MHH supplies due to a reduction in available income and mobility restrictions leading to an increase in vulnerability of menstruators to those control resources, which may lead to negative coping strategies, ranging from the use of alternative, home-made MHH supplies which may cause reproductive infections to sexual exploitation in an effort to access menstrual products. In an attempt to raise awareness about the importance of menstrual hygiene, every year Post For Change, a non-profit organisation that uses social media to tackle important social and global matters related to the UN Sustainable Development Goal on Gender Equality partners with UNICEF India around Menstrual Hygiene Day celebrated on May 28. Together, the two organisations initiate ‘Red Dot Challenge’, a social media campaign to spread the message of menstrual hygiene.
In a run-up to Menstrual Hygiene Day, #RedDotChallenge 2021 was initiated on May 25 with the first post by Dipa Khosla, Founder, Post For Change. With a mask on her face and a red dot on her palm, Ms Khosla posted her black and white picture and shared the details of the campaign in the caption. She wrote, “Each year we work with India’s greatest influencers who help to show the power of influence and spread the message even further. While this year is no different, our team acknowledges that the pandemic had made this year much harder on all of our communities. Therefore our #reddotchallenge aims to respect this by doing twofold: raising awareness about the importance of menstrual hygiene, as well continuing to take care of ourselves and others by curbing the spread of COVID-19.”
Ms Khosla urged netizens to join the challenge and take a stand so that girls around the world no longer feel ashamed about their menstrual cycle. To participate, one needs to take a black and white photo of them in a mask and place a red dot on their palm.
“We can make a change together”, said Ms Khosla.
Celebrities And Netizens Join The #RedDotChallenge
TV actor Jennifer Winget is the first celebrity to join the #RedDotChallenge this year. Pledging her support to the campaign, Ms Winget shared her picture on Instagram and wrote, “Times are tough, Use your voice, Period!”
Entrepreneur Ankita Bansal too joined the bandwagon and shared an anecdote from an all-women’s panel where the issue of menstruation, a natural cycle, was raised by a woman. Ms Bansal wrote, “A woman said, “We are not scared of the blood that is shed by warriors but we worry about the blood that comes out of a woman’s body as a natural phenomenon.” This stayed with me. It has made me further wonder and question so many societal constructs we’ve been made to believe as our reality, things I usually anyway also go around challenging.”
Ms Bansal further said that it’s time to be difficult and be more vocal about issues that are termed ‘unfit’ as public conversations. Ms Bansal urged to not be ashamed of menstruation and wrote, “I will be safe and I will not be shamed.”
Indian Fashion Blogger Masoom Minawala Mehta also lent her support to the campaign and asked people to embrace the menstrual cycle as ‘it is what makes us, us.’ Sharing her picture on social media, Ms Mehta wrote, “If there is one thing that COVID has taught us, it is that we all have that golden touch of humanity alive, let’s keep it thriving and shining. Let’s not shame, bring down or ridicule – our period. Period!”
Joining the campaign, Air India Captain Zoya Agarwal urged people to come together and raise their voices “so that women around the world no longer feel ashamed about their menstrual cycles.”
Actor Megha Gupta made a similar appeal and asked people to use their voices in these tough times.
Digital creator Maia Sethna Malhotra too decided to take a stand “so that women around the world no longer feel ashamed about their menstrual cycles.”
An Instagram user questioned the practice of wrapping a pack of sanitary napkins in a black plastic bag or newspapers. The user wrote, “I am proud of what a woman’s body is capable of. We need to get rid of the stigma around periods.”
Another user called out the problem of poor menstrual hygiene and said, “The intention is to get rid of this uncomfortable state and to take care of yourself with proper hygiene during menstruation.”
Here Are Some More Posts By Netizens Supporting The Campaign
— Umesh Pansari (@UmeshPansari1) May 26, 2021
End the stigma. Period.@Stand4she #UNICEF #reddotchallenge #menstruationmatters #unicefindia #takeastand #MenstrualHygieneDay #bethechange #changemakers #sanitation #Hygiene pic.twitter.com/W1HMd8o52m
— Shashank L Pathy (@ShashankLPathy) May 25, 2021
In these difficult & uncertain times, I stand with @post.for.change @unicefindia and pledge that I'll be safe & ensure others are safe too.
— Varsha Banerjee (@VarshaBanerjee1) May 25, 2021
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 (Water, Sanitation 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 pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.