I never read newspapers because they are full of useless information. But sometimes, they surprise me with something unexpected. I was really awakened from my state of sleep when I saw the newspaper headlines confirming the news of Installation of Sanitary Pads Vending Machine at Patna Junction. Still, I’m not convinced as it’s a long way to go when we women are not reluctant in talking over topics like menstrual hygiene in public.
The Padman Impact
Movies in our country is undoubtedly one of the most powerful tools to influence public opinion. Though, sometimes it becomes a tool to influence political or religious agenda by miscreants in the society (what happened recently with Padmavat is an example). However, few movies leave a question mark on the social stigmas and they stir the pain and trauma of long due causes. Recently released Padman is one fine example of the same, the movie raised a burning issue which affects the most natural and fundamental need of women; the use of sanitary pads.
The movie created lots of buzz since the trailer of the film was released. The campaign supported by several Bollywood stars showing sanitary pads in their hands to support the cause was for creating awareness among every single woman for that it is an issue of concern that needs immediate addressing.
The positive impact of this movie is nationwide, even our own city Patna is influenced positively by the movie. The welcome move recently came from Indian Railway. The Eastern Central Railway (ECR) in collaboration with Nav Astitva Foundation is working the project of installing automated sanitary pad vending machine. The machine will be installed inside the women’s washroom at Patna Junction helping women adopt menstrual hygiene.
Current Hygiene Standards At Patna Junction
It’s a great initiative from the ECR towards menstrual health and hygiene. However, the ECR should not forget that there are other prominent issues that need to be improved first. The first in the list will be the condition of the washroom at Patna Railway Station. They are not up to the mark according to the acceptable standards of hygiene. The condition is worse and hygiene conscious female will not use the washroom until its sheer emergency. These issues need to be addressed first because if the basic standards of hygiene is not at place, how can we expect it to reach to the next level where women can feel safe to change their pads during their menstruation period.
Dealing With The Social Stigma
It is great that Patna will have automated sanitary pads vending machine. However, the initiative is not successful until we encourage and educate females to use it. In a state like Bihar (and even in the most parts of our Country), women grow up in an environment where they are taught not to talk about menstrual cycle and sanitary pads in public. Despite being one essential fundamental need, women feel uncomfortable while buying sanitary pads on medical stores due to the presence of male shopkeeper in store. In such a scenario, how come they will use this facility.
The Real Solution
We all talk about the problem, we even become a part of hue and cry to fix it. However, very few actually work in the real direction. The real solution of this problem is to raise awareness, to bring it in front of everyone, to not stop women from talking about it, but to make it a normal thing as it is for every woman. To start with, awareness among the appropriate audience at grass root level is required. Until the concerned group is aware, there is no benefit of any significant steps taken to improve menstrual hygiene. Raising awareness among girls at school can be the best thing. Making it a part of curriculum might be of better help.
Another major need in this direction is, the change of mindset (for both men and women), they need to understand that its natural phenomena, not a sin, not an ailment; it is actually a gift given to women only enabling them to give birth. It’s not a bad thing, it is a natural way of flushing out impurities out of a female body.
The women in our society will be able to enjoy the real benefits of such great initiatives (as taken by ECR), once the mindset is changed. Else it will end up as another unused facility like several other noble initiatives taken by the government and we the people will forget it assuming it as another PR initiative.
I’m an avid reader, a foodie, and a movie buff; who is passionate about the positivity around us. I love to dream and convert those dreams into words. At one moment I’m inside a shell and the very next moment I’m the ferocious one. Dynamism is my forte.
Apart from being a dreamer, I’m also a woman with a beating heart and a curious mind questioning traditional social norms. I’m a rebel at one moment and just opposite at the very next moment. My fuel is the smile of my son, the happiness of my family, and lots of coffee.
I’m also not ashamed of spending money on buying books and to fill my (always empty) stomach.