Landing Pad | India

Landing Pad

Partner | Kolkata Mary Ward Social Centre

Location | West Bengal, India

Overview

In India, young girls and adolescent women often grow up with limited knowledge of why they have periods because their mothers and other women shy away from discussing the issue with them. Menstruation is a taboo subject in most cultures, and historically has been associated with disgust, dirt, shame, and fear. A menstruating girl or woman may be considered impure and unclean.

10% of girls in India believe menstruation is a disease, and only 13% of girls are aware of menstruation before their first period. 87% of the women and girls have no knowledge of menstruation as a biological process. For many girls in rural areas, having their period is a reason to quit school due to lack of facilities and appropriate sanitary products. This results in irreversible effects on their personal development, economic status, and their health.

In rural India, many women and girls use unsanitary materials such as old rags, husks, dried leaves, grass, ash, sand, or newspapers as ‘sanitary pads’ because they do not have access to affordable, hygienic and safe products and facilities. They are seldom aware of their personal hygiene and are victims of societal prejudices and superstitions, which make them more vulnerable in their health.

This project aims to equip 5000 adolescent girls & women with sanitary pads, training on how to use them, and educate women, girls, and men on health, hygiene, and menstruation.

* Statistics as per India’s National Family Health Survey, 2018

Challenges

Due to the spread of COVID-19, many people restricted their movement around the community and mass gatherings were not permitted. Although this affected the sanitary pad production and distribution, the need for pads was still high in vulnerable communities such as traditional tribal groups, women working in the red light area in Sonagachi, and girls living in the brickfields.

Impact

This project works to improve the reproductive health and hygiene of vulnerable women and children through education and the provision of sanitary products.

The success of this project will further result in the elimination of social taboos surrounding menstruation and thereby increase the number of adolescent girls attending school who would otherwise stay at home during menstruation.

Landing Pads looks to pave the path for future innovative programs regarding female reproductive health. However, some immediate issues regarding menstrual hygiene and menstrual health need to be addressed now, and the success of this new project is an essential first step.

Activities
  • Maintain the health and hygiene of 5,000 girls and women through the production and distribution of sanitary pads.
  • Educate girls and women on the proper use and disposal of sanitary pads.
  • Distribute free sanitary pads to girls and women in vulnerable communities.
  • Provide programmatic sex education to select groups.
  • Deliver the “No girl is standing alone in the fight against period struggles” digital campaign.
  • Inform and educate families and communities on the importance of maintaining reproductive health.
  • Support girls to attend school by providing them with sanitary pads.
  • Deliver awareness training to men and women to break down conservative views and taboos about menstruation.