Thursday Jun 30, 2022
Thursday Jun 30, 2022

Activists advocate for dignified menstruation in Nepal

Menstrual dialogue sparks up among the activists of Nepal

2022 May 24, 6:04, Kathmandu
Photo : Representative image/ flickr

As the World Menstrual Hygiene Day nears, menstrual dialogue sparks up among the activists of Nepal.

This week on Saturday, Nepal is celebrating annual menstrual hygiene day on the 28th of May 2022. Initiated by the German based organization WASH United in 2014, the Menstrual Hygiene Day has been celebrated since the year 2017 in Nepal to highlight the importance of menstrual hygiene in the country.

Photo : Menstrual Hygiene Day poster / Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management Partners' Alliance (MHMPA) Nepal
Photo : Menstrual Hygiene Day poster / Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management Partners' Alliance (MHMPA) Nepal

“ We should celebrate 365 days for dignified menstruation but it is not possible so menstrual hygiene day is an opportunity to celebrate dignified menstruation and have dialogue on it,” says Radha Paudel, the author of the internationally recognized book, ‘Dignified Menstruation: The Dignity of Menstruators throughout their Life Cycle’ and a prominent Nepali activist for women related issues.

“ Menstruation is considered a taboo, not a topic of conversation in most of the countries and areas. It is also considered a sin and hence women are denied their human rights. Due to taboos and ill cultural practices, there is a huge negative impact on girls and women to access education and health. Menstrual Hygiene Day breaks the silence, creates awareness, and advocates for freedom for women and eliminating restrictions,” says Guna Raj Shrestha, National convener for the Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management Partners' Alliance (MHMPA) Nepal. MHMPA Nepal, advocates for the accessibility of menstrual hygiene products and the right to freedom, education, health, mobility and housing for women and girls.

“ Menstrual hygiene day is celebrated to work together with the government to enjoy menstruation as a matter of pride and dignity for all females. This is also the platform to have dialogue among the policy makers and share the knowledge and information around menstruation,” Shrestha adds.

When asked about his stance on the topic of giving period leaves in workplaces to women who find it difficult to work during their menstruation he said, “ It is tricky. Many girls and women need rest during their menstruation due to menstrual pain but they should not be restricted from economic opportunities, and be labelled as weak. An option for the choice of leave should be given to women.”

“ The system of giving menstrual leaves started a hundred years ago, from Russia but people did not take the leave as there is a huge stigma, deep silence and ignorance about menstruation. Menstrual discrimination does exist. Menstrual leave sounds good but it has negative consequences if we analyze it historically. However, there should be flexible working hours,” says activist Radha Paudel. “ About 5 percent of women face severe symptoms during their menstruation and require rest and treatment,” she adds.

Photo : Representative image/ flickr
Photo : Representative image/ flickr

Last year, citizens took to the streets in “ Raato Kar Maaf Gar” or “ Remove the Red Tax” rallies, demanding to remove the VAT on menstrual products. The key enterprise in VAT removal activism has been Pad2Go Nepal, working to make menstrual products accessible. "The VAT on books was removed because many people protested, and there was a sense of success among the youths. I think protesting about VAT on sanitary products is also something a lot of people stand in solidarity with and have a one-track approach about," says Jesselina Rana one of the founders of Pad2Go Nepal.

“ Standard pads should be made available for free at least in health care facilities from where girls and women in need can collect it for free. MHMPA is advocating for the free distribution of pads across the country. However the pads must be hygienic and decomposable as non decomposable pads pollute the environment,” says Guna Raj Shrestha, National convener for the Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management Partners' Alliance (MHMPA) Nepal.

“ I am hopeful that our demands to remove the VAT from menstrual products will be considered in the upcoming budget announcement by the government.” concludes activist Radha Paudel.


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