NEW: 'We Want Women to Talk About Menstruation'
Updated: May 12
Q. What are the various menstrual health services delivered in your village and district? Are these services being rendered by the local, state, or Union governments? What is your role in the process?
Anganwadi Worker (AWW): At present there are no ongoing schemes for promoting menstrual health. Some time back a related scheme was launched but I do not have detailed information about it.
Sanitary pads are not given by the Health and Women and Child Development departments. There are no medical dispensaries in the village, due to which women and adolescent girls are not able to get pads. That's why we get pads from dispensaries and give them to the citizens at a reduced cost. But we don’t get any separate funds for this, we do this out of our own volition.
Q. Do you think community members are interested in discussing menstrual hygiene? Are women and especially adolescent girls interested in understanding menstrual hygiene from you?
AWW: We want women to talk about menstruation; some women do share their thoughts, but most of the women shy away from talking about it. Illiterate and rural women say that it is a sin to talk about this topic. They believe that women should stay inside the house and should not come in contact with anyone during their periods. Because of this, they do not even participate in the VSHND meeting or in Mangal Diwas at the Anganwadi.
There is a need to make adolescent girls aware about periods. We should give information about periods to adolescent girls on Lalima Diwas which is celebrated at the Anganwadi on the fourth Tuesday of the month. This is necessary so they do not feel uncomfortable when they get their first period.
Q. Have you received any training on menstrual health?
AWW: We have not received exclusive training on menstrual health. But we are informed by our superiors about what things we should take care of during menstruation. Counselling is also given by the ANM, so if someone comes to us with menstrual problems, we can give them detailed information about it.
Q. Are you aware of whether your Gram Panchayat prioritises menstrual health services during its planning? What existing infrastructure can be improved for menstrual health delivery?
AWW: Although there is a health committee in every panchayat, it is not active, due to which planning is not done regarding health. The planning of the Panchayat is mostly populated with men, and subjects concerning women are not talked about, nor are they given priority. Even when a few women are present there as members, they do not feel like speaking on the subject in front of everyone.
Q. Are you eligible for menstrual health services by the government too?
AWW: We are not given any facilities by the government. We have to roam outside for the whole day, yet we do not even get sanitary pads from the government. So how will other citizens get it? This is a valid concern. I feel that the government should work towards providing all women with access to sanitary pads.
This interview was conducted with an Anganwadi Worker in Madhya Pradesh in Hindi on 27 April 2023, and has been translated.
Photo Credit: Rain Drop