ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Understanding Menstrual Hygiene Management

A Case Study of Adolescent Girls in Rural Gujarat

Menstrual hygiene management plays a vital role in the physical, economic, and psychological development of adolescent girls. Traditionally, women in rural societies relied on used clothes for menstrual management, but more recently, their preferences have shifted towards market-based formal products. This paper examines the usage of different types of menstrual absorbent material among rural adolescent girls. It analyses their purchase and use behaviour, factors that affect the choice of these products, and ways to make them more accessible and affordable.

The authors would like to thank the women and the adolescent girls of Wankaner, especially those associated with the MHM Programme of AKRSP (India), who have provided deep insights and understanding of the issue. They also acknowledge the valuable contribution of Falguni Jadeja and her field team in collecting data, facilitating discussion at the field level, and providing their insights on the issue. The authors also thank the anonymous reviewer for helpful comments.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the United Nations (2015) and its member states in September 2015. Though menstrual hygiene is not explicitly mentioned in any of the 17 SDGs, it is directly linked with several of them concerning health, overall well-being, quality education, gender equality across age groups, access to water and sanitation, and right to decent work and economic growth (Tiwari 2018). SDG 6 is about ensuring safe drinking water and sanitation for all by 2030 and aims to end open defecation along with paying attention to the needs of women, and girls and those in vulnerable situations (Singh 2017).

Women who do not have access to sanitation facilities are forced to practice open defecation, that too only after nightfall, which renders them at risk of physical and sexual assault, snakebites, etc. As they are not able to relieve themselves for prolonged durations, they are at risk of developing many health problems like urinary tract infection, constipation, and psychological stress. As an extreme implication of menstruation, women labourers are also forced to go for hysterectomies in some parts of India so that they do not take leave from sugar cane cutting work on account of menstruation; this not only puts them at high risk of chronic health problems like backache and abdominal pain but also makes them prone to different kinds of infections and multiple reproductive health problems. These cause further complications like premature ageing and loss of their livelihood at a young age if they continue to be reproductive (Shukla and Kulkarni 2019).

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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