Nepal | January 18, 2021

Making women independent


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For many girls and women in Nepal’s remote areas, their monthly period means putting their lives on hold and taking a monthly exile.

Menstruation is still considered to be a taboo and is often a subject of embarrassment, especially for girl students, who refrain from attending regular school and other social activities. Lack of access to sanitary pads and limited awareness about menstrual hygiene make their daily life unmanageable.

Even today, women in remote areas have limited access to sanitary pads. They are expensive, so it’s not surprising that majority of school-going girls can’t afford them.

Some take leave for 4-5 days while others seek permission to leave half their classes everyday. If this continues for long, this will mean a huge loss for the country as a whole, socially and financially.

The situation is such that even if the young girls want to study, they are compelled to stay at home because they don’t have the money to buy sanitary pads during their periods.

The monthly exile is largely due to the financial condition of the girls, which can be solved by empowering the housewives and girls to come forward and start producing sanitary pads on their own. They can be taught how to use the sewing machine and locally sourced fabric to make hygienic pads that are reusable.

This way, they will not only be earning on their own but will also be maintaining their health and hygiene.

Liberation comes from within. To quote Mahatma Gandhi, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” After all, if you want to change something, you need to be the change first.

Practising the monthly exile is a matter of choice, having access to sanitary pads is the freedom women should have whether they like it or not.

Most women consider themselves to be impure during menstruation. It is nothing but a natural process. You don’t become a lesser person because your body did what it was supposed to do. The problem here doesn’t lie in being illiterate or being financially weak.

The problem lies in our perception.

Therefore, it’s high time to take action towards solving the problem. It may take some time, but change is possible if we collaborate and work together at all levels.

We must create awareness among the locals about the misconception they have about menstruation and change it.

A version of this article appears in print on March 16, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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