Poor menstrual hygiene caused by lack of education on the issue, persisting taboos and stigma, and poor sanitation infrastructure makes menstrual health a painful experience for women. 

A world which struggles in basic hygiene and sanitation facilities for women during their periods makes the simple biological phenomenon of menstruation complicated. The nexus of stigma, silence, shame and the notions of impurity associated with it makes the world a difficult place to live in.

However, looking the world through the eyes of a woman makes the whole world different than the what it exists as today, and becomes a place where you need not “WHISPER” your menstrual experiences to “STAY FREE” from stigma.

Rajkumari a resident of K-block in Jahangirpuri, Delhi narrated her experience of menstruation, “I have never used sanitary pads in my life. I just use a cloth and bleed the entire day in a room specifically meant for that”.
This is the story of 82% of India’s women who still don’t have the three basic A’s- Accessibility, Availability, Affordability to safe menstrual hygiene and management. And the social stigma associated with menstruation makes any kind of tangible action on these things ineffective as the women themselves don’t feel confident in having healthy and safe periods. Hence, menstruation is a more of a social issue which is being tackled by many stakeholders like NGOs, college students and government agencies coming together for advocacy and awareness.

Especially the onus is on the University of Delhi students to bring about this silent revolution to de-stigmatize menstruation and spread awareness in their local community to promote menstrual hygiene and management. One such initiative was taken by a group of students of Cluster Innovation Centre who worked on a semester-long project on ground level in slums, government schools, children homes and with visually challenged women to promote menstrual hygiene.
A member of the team, Shambhavi Sharma said, “What is needed is a dialogue, the more open you are about the phenomenon the more natural it becomes. So when we went around the JJ colony areas, Sanskar Ashrams, All India Confederation for Blind or the Government school in Roop Nagar as part of our project, our message was clear.

To make them aware of the physiological aspects of menstruation while focusing on one aspect of menstrual hygiene management that is – hygiene promotion and awareness. The reason being that menstrual hygiene related infections are seldom talked about yet prevalent.”

The discussions around menstruation should be normalised including the active participation of the male members to promote menstrual hygiene and management.
Another team member, Kartik Krishnan added, “I believe that men should support women and girls to manage menstruation effectively in the household, community, school, and workplace. A lot of things like not being hesitant or shy in buying a pad for a female friend, family member etc. makes the discussion more gender neutral. Therefore, young boys need to be taught to be more mature towards MHM (Menstrual Hygiene Management).”

However, this is not the complete picture of the scenario. While more than 80% of the female population still struggles for basic menstrual hygiene facilities, it is the irony of the situation that the 18% of the privileged female population who have access to safe menstrual hygiene contribute to 80% of the non-biodegradable menstrual waste. Sustainable menstruation methods are essential for the environment and are more economically cheaper than the prolonged use of sanitary napkins contributing to increased plastic generation.
Arundhati Subhedar, a student of Lady Shri Ram College, took up the initiative to spread awareness on sustainable methods for menstruation through her initiative- BLOOD. “I have been trying to promote eco-friendly periods. Sanitary napkins and tampons are a huge hassle for the environment.

Alternatives for these are menstrual cups and cloth pads, both of which are reusable, comparatively cheaper and healthier for a person” said Arundhati.
Educated and well-informed women of India need to make smarter choices keeping these things in mind.

Therefore, the biological phenomenon of menstruation incorporates several social, economic and environmental factors with it. Modern and scientific methods have to be adopted and their accessibility should be ensured as it is the basic right of every woman.
Today, on the menstrual hygiene management day let us take it upon ourselves to spread awareness on safe menstrual hygiene and management in our own community and help every woman to have a HAPPY PERIOD in its true essence.

Feature Image Credits: medium

Sriya Rane
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With mental health related concerns at an all time high, those suffering from them often find themselves surrounded by the fear of being stigmatised which restricts them from seeking professional help.

Despite all the progress we make, mental health still remains as the most ignored and misunderstood aspect of one’s health. Due to a lack of any physical symptoms most of the times, there is little awareness of what a person suffering from any form of mental illness goes through daily, battling his/her own mind. Not being acknowledged and understood further aggravate their situations.

It may still have been bearable for them, had there only been ignorance surrounding it. But unfortunately, this ignorance and unawareness has led to the development of a stigma around mental illness. Those suffering from any of its form are looked down upon and not treated as any other ‘normal’ human being.

This deplorable condition of mental health restricts its treatment the most. Those suffering, fear getting professional help. The constantly hanging sword of public stigma often slowslows down their steps towards seeking help. “What if I get termed as ‘mad’ or ‘mental’?” said Kratika of Kamala Nehru College (KNC) when apprising about the reasons why she didn’t visit a professional during her days filled with acute anxiety.

Those having even history of ever undergoing psychological or psychiatric treatment are more often than not being judged as mentally and emotionally unstable or unfit for any leadership positions.

This public stigma is, thus, further hampering the awareness and betterment of the mental health scenario. The stigma is unfortunately not just public, but also self-inflicted wherein one labels himself/herself as unacceptable for having the need of seeking help to cure one’s mental health concerns. They find themselves struggling with low self-esteem and confidence for having developed a strong need of professional help. Sakshi from KNC says that the only reason she still hasn’t approached a psychologist is because she thinks it would be really helpless and weak of her to visit one. The already disturbing illness doubled with the lack of self-worth is one dangerous combination and becomes a never-ending dungeon, from which escape becomes even more difficult.

These two stigmas aren’t mutually exclusive all the time, for quite often it is the constant public stigma that gives birth to self stigma.

The lack of intervention of professional help can have dire consequences for those having a mental ailment. These stigmas denigrate the situation further. Thus, it becomes acutely pertinent to not just create awareness of mental health but also to normalise seeking help for those suffering.

Image Credits: Adam Easo

Shreya Agrawal

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Spoon University Delhi Chapter has initiated a campaign called Of The Scars That Don’t Show: Tame the Stigma, not the Human with the intention of spreading awareness about mental health and acknowledgement of related issues.

The idea behind the campaign as pointed out by Niharika Maggo, the Editorial Director at Spoon DU, came up about because the issue was a personal belief. “Mental Health awareness is a cause very close to the heart of the Spoon UDelhi team and despite great strides in our understanding of mental illnesses and improvements in the efforts surrounding it, too many still suffer in silence.

That’s why we wanted to build an open dialogue that not only lets people share their experiences and thoughts but also encourages support and respect for those struggling with mental illnesses.” she mentions

They recruited ambassadors for the cause, whom they call Mental Health Heroes

(Album on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/788989617848556/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1278266235587556 )

These MHHs have been instrumental in spreading a word about the campaign and bringing more people to commence a dialogue.

Kritika Narula, Founder of the chapter, explains how the idea evolved.

“We began with the idea that we will serve as a platform where to use our reach to eliminate the stigma around mental health. The idea was to bring as much attention to the invisible Scars as to the physical ones.

From where we started almost a month back, we have now become a platform for vent and expression, what with the numerous stories of healing and ‘being there for loved ones through mental illnesses’ pouring in from all directions.

It has truly been a privilege to have started this campaign and get the opportunity to act as an outlet for expression. Healing through expression became our motto in no time.”

The same belief is held by Manya Sinha, a Mental Health Advocate from DCAC who says,”Browsing through people’s account and details of the same mental illness that I had gave me a sense of relief. Relief, because it assured me that I am not alone. Relief because I could always reach out to them and find comfort in the understanding. This is why I believe that this initiative is important because we never know who we are helping with our stories and our experiences. It is important to heal together.”

They have also received wishes from The Artidote founder Jova, who appreciated their efforts in a personal communication, who stated he is glad they’re also working towards raising mental health to have the same societal importance as our physical health.

They are also launching a e-magazine called An Ode To Semi Colon, which has received entries from professionals and students alike.

They have been regularly posting stories and poetic pieces that reek of vulnerability and expression of mental illnesses.


(Some examples: https://www.facebook.com/events/1231206973642919/permalink/1272757906154492/






Maggo adds, “The response we received was heartwarming. With entries giving us a varied perspective, be it a patient’s point of view or a psychologist/ psychology teacher’s. We hope this campaign triggers a change, even if it’s not effected immediately. We hope that people recognise the scars that don’t show and also firmly believe that it’s not the end.

The campaign will culminate in an event called Spoon Summit 2.0 on 1st April 2017, at Jawaharlal Nehru National Youth Center ND Tiwari Bhawan ITO from 12 noon. The line-up of speakers performers and panelists includes people who have themselves suffered from depression, anxiety etc. Those who use art as an outlet and specialists from the field.


Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1231206973642919/

Registration Link: https://goo.gl/forms/slv9J6tiopGWvqFM2