In a world lacking foresight, the judiciary finds itself compelled to impose a deadline on the government for tasks that should be self-evident. The Supreme Court of India has granted the Centre a four-week period to finalize a comprehensive menstrual hygiene policy, emphasizing the distribution of sanitary napkins. The Chief Justice has additionally instructed the government to establish a national standard for the ratio of girls’ toilets to the female population in government-aided and residential schools nationwide.
GS2- Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes.
A menstrual hygiene policy is an unavoidable necessity for India today. Comment. (10 marks, 150 words).
How is Menstruation Perceived in India?
- Menstruation is an undeniable reality for a specific age demographic of women, involving a significant portion of the country’s population.
- Remarkably, it is only now, more than seventy-five years after Independence, that India is nearing the formulation of a menstrual hygiene policy.
- Despite progress and increased urbanization, menstrual hygiene products remain financially out of reach for many young women.
- Accessibility barriers persist, particularly for women in semi-urban and rural areas.
Statistics Pertaining to Menstruation in India:
- According to the latest National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS), 73% of rural women and 90% of urban women use a hygienic method of menstrual protection.
- Although there has been a substantial increase in the percentage of women aged 15-24 using hygienic methods, rising from 58% in NFHS-4 to 78% in NFHS-5, challenges persist, such as affordability and access to products, toilets, and water.
- The survey underscores the undeniable connection between education and hygiene preferences. Women with 12 or more years of schooling are more than twice as likely to use a hygienic method compared to those with no formal education.
- A clear link has been established between menstruation, school dropout rates due to stigma, and inadequate access to sanitation facilities. The lack of significant action to address these issues over the years is indicative of a callous attitude.
- In response to the Court, the Centre reported that a draft policy had been circulated for feedback from various stakeholders and would be finalized within four weeks. However, a policy alone is only a partial solution.
To effect comprehensive change, the government must ensure not only the availability of affordable menstrual hygiene products for all menstruating girls but also access to clean toilets and water wherever needed. Moreover, the policy should address the entire spectrum of health and social consequences associated with menstruation. It is imperative for the government to acknowledge, comprehend, and commit to serving the needs of India’s women.