EDEN IAS

NATIONAL MENSTRUAL HYGIENE POLICY

DRAFT NATIONAL MENSTRUAL HYGIENE POLICY, 2023

Why in the news National Menstrual Hygiene policy?

Recently, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released the Draft National Menstrual Hygiene Policy, 2023.

About Menstrual Hygiene Policy

  • Policy recognizes menstruation as a natural bodily process for all who menstruate including girls and women of reproductive age and addresses the long-standing challenges associates with menstruation in our country, which has been overlook historically.
  • The specific focus is on prioritizing undeserved and vulnerable populations, ensuring equitable access to menstrual hygiene resources.
  • The policy aims that all women, girls and persons who menstruate can experience menstruation in a manner that is safe, healthy, and free from stigma.
  • By adopting a life cycle approach, the policy ensures comprehensive support through the entire menstrual journey, recognising the unique needs of individuals from menarche to menopause.

Policy strategy –

  • Ensuring access to affordable and safe menstrual hygiene products
    • Develop a mechanism to ensure affordable products are available to all.
    • Initiatives for free or subsidized menstrual hygiene products.
    • Targeted outreach programs in rural areas and developed supply chains and distribution networks.
  • Promote Quality Standards and Regulatory Framework
    • Develop and implement comprehensive quality standards for different types of menstrual hygiene products.
    • Clear and accurate product labelling and a strong regulatory framework to monitor compliance with quality standards.
  • Availability of Clean and Dignified Menstrual Hygiene Facilities in homes, educational institutions, and public spaces.
    • Develop and implement systems to ensure that menstrual waste is managed in an environmentally friendly manner.

Promotion of education and awareness of National Menstruation Hygiene Policy

  • Collaboration with the Non-Government Sector/Engagement with the private sector for research and development, bringing innovation, developing distribution channels, Leveraging corporate social responsibility, etc.
  • Integrate principles of menstrual hygiene into existing health, education, sanitation, gender, and environment programs.
  • Foster research and innovation in menstrual hygiene management.

Need for a Menstrual Hygiene Policy –

  • Health and well-being of women: Access to safe and hygienic menstrual products, can prevent reproductive tract infections and other health issues.
  • Access to education: A 2014 report by an NGO said over 23 million girls drop out of school every year due to a lack of adequate menstrual hygiene facilities, this can be curtailed.
  • Gender equality: Promoting menstrual health and hygiene is an important means for safeguarding women’s dignity, privacy, bodily integrity, and, consequently, their self-efficacy.
  • Participation in work: Providing basic services at the work environment e.g. access to sanitary products, and menstrual leave will promote the participation of women in work.
  • Environment: Ensuring women and girls have access to sustainable and quality products and improving the management of the disposal of menstrual products, can make a big difference to the environment.
  • Ensuring Dignity and Respect: Discrimination against menstruating women is widespread in India e.g. denied entry into temples and shrines and even kept out of kitchens, the policy can bring awareness about menstruation.

Challenges to National Menstrual Hygiene Policy –

  • Social stigma and taboos: A study highlighted that menstruating women in remote villages of the Himalayas still practice segregation due to the belief that menstrual blood is impure.
  • Poverty: Poor girls in rural and remote areas cannot afford Menstrual hygiene products.
  • Limited waste management: Due to a lack of extended producer responsibility and proper guidelines, proper waste management of menstrual products faces complexities.
    • Most sanitary pads, laden with plastic, cannot biodegrade naturally.
  • Work environment issues: Lack of access to washrooms, clean water for bathing and Problems in access to cost- effective menstrual hygiene products and their safe disposal.
    • Only two states, Kerala and Bihar, currently have menstrual leave policies for women.

Current Program regarding to National Menstrual Hygiene Policy:

  1. Menstrual Hygiene Scheme in 2011- by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. It focused on the distribution of low cost sanitary napkins in communities through ASHAs.
  2. Swachha Bharat Mission (2014) -The Ministry of Jal Shakti included menstrual hygiene management in the Swachh Bharat Mission -Gramin initiatives in 2014.
  3. National Guidelines for Menstrual Hygiene Management (2015) – By the Ministry of Education, these National guidelines provided a valuable blueprint for all the States to intensify work on the issue of menstrual hygiene management.
  4. Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK)-under Ministry of Health provided support for the procurement and distribution of sanitary napkins across States and UTs.
  5. Schemes by various states

> Asmita Yojana” in Maharashtra.

>Udaan” in Rajasthan.

> “Khushi” in Odisha.

Both provide subsidised or free sanitary napkins to adolescent girls

Conclusion:

While the federal and state governments have recently launched programs aimed at expanding access to sanitary menstruation products, many of them are region-specific. Therefore, in order to reach as many underprivileged people as possible, it is imperative that these efforts be expanded. Draft Menstrual hygiene policies have the power to make a big difference in the development of a culture where menstruation is recognized, accepted, and handled without prejudice or obstacles.

Source: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare