Let’s talk about period!

What is Menstruation or A Period?

The level of estrogen and progesterone, reproductive hormones, climbs every month as the uterus prepares for pregnancy. The uterine lining becomes dense and spongy as a result of these hormones. This lining is made up of tissue and blood, much like everything else inside our bodies. It provides a variety of nutrients that help pregnancy progress. If there isn’t a pregnancy, progesterone levels drop, and the thick endometrial lining sheds and leaks out of the vaginal orifice. And Menstruation is the result.

Red Wedding . shark week . Time of the week . code red.
A slew of terms for one utterance – Menstruation. And not just human beings; Other mammals, such as Old World monkeys and apes, 3-5 kinds of bats, and the elephant shrew, have periods as well.

Only 121 million (roughly only 36% of the women) of India’s 336 million menstruating women use sanitary pads, according to the National Family Health Survey 2015-2016. Many women still refuse to use sanitary pads for a variety of reasons, including personal preference and familiarity, a lack of access to or affordability for high-quality commercial sanitary pads, and a lack of adequate knowledge regarding pads.

“More than a third of girls in South Asia miss school during their periods, as they lack access to toilets or pads, and many receive no education about menstruation before reaching puberty,”- A recent report by charity WaterAid and UNICEF revealed.

Because they cannot afford these expensive sanitary goods, many girls and women utilize a new soft cloth or some homemade product. Women may also use hay, ash sand, ash, wood shavings, newspapers, dried leaves, or plastic in extreme circumstances.

In both urban and rural India, qualitative investigations and surveys have revealed the most common reason for not using a sanitary pad is its high price. Pads from high-end commercial manufacturers can cost up to 1.5 times as much as pads from low-cost vendors. Quality sanitary pads are desirable, but the majority of girls from low-income homes cannot afford them.

TAX-FREE SANITARY PRODUCTS

“I am sure all mothers and sisters will be very happy to hear that sanitary pads are now 100 percent exempt from tax,” India’s interim finance minister, Piyush Goyal, at a news conference in New Delhi.

In 2018, India abolished its 12% tariff on all sanitary items, declaring tampons and sanitary napkins tax-free.

But is it enough?

A bundle of ten sanitary napkins, which used to cost roughly 100 rupees, will now cost around 88 rupees when the 12 percent GST is abolished. This could be a woman’s monthly outlay on menstrual products. However, given that 65.07% of India’s population lives in rural regions and relies on manual labor, with many of them subsisting on less than 120 rupees per day, the price of 88 rupees for a packet of sanitary napkins remains exorbitant.

Recently, The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act 2021 was approved by the Scottish Government, making sanitary products free for all women and making Scotland the first country in the world to do so in the battle against “period poverty.” It is also the world’s first regulation requiring all public institutions to distribute menstrual sanitary goods, such as tampons and pads.

But why only in Scotland?
Periods are not a choice for women. They occur monthly and are a natural phenomenon. Therefore, every woman or girl who is menstruating deserves access to adequate sanitary products, regardless of her family’s income bracket.

It is high time for India and other countries to follow Scotland’s lead and make sanitary products free & accessible for their women.