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Cloth Pads: Not an Embarrassment, but a Progressive Step.

NCW sanitary napkin vending machines edu institutions

Menstruation has been in the news for a while, which is in a way a very good news. But a lot of reports and stories focus on how women are not able to access sanitary napkins. For example, according to a National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2015-16, about 57.6 percent of the Indian women use sanitary napkins and 62 percent women in the age group 15-24 years still rely on a cloth during periods. Why is there an undue importance given to sanitary napkins when women are switching from sanitary napkins to cloth pads?

The switch to sustainable menstruation by using cloth pads are encouraged world over but most of us are still obsessed with sanitary pads.

According to report by Outlook India, “The WHO survey was conducted in October 2017 and included women respondents from more than 35 cities all over India. Out of all the participants of the survey, as many as 45 percent said that they have had to borrow the sanitary napkins at least once or twice a year. More than 45 percent women felt that menstruation was still considered a taboo in the Indian society and 36 percent felt uncomfortable while buying sanitary essentials from a chemist shop in the presence of other customers.”

Sanitary napkins are considered the only sanitary essential product by most of such reports. There is a lot of drive behind using and promoting consumeristic products. It is simply deemed as the best product. Other products are ignored and not even brought into conversations. Chemically manufactured sanitary napkins have been existent only from the 1970s. Before that, women used only plain cotton and cloth pads during menstruation. That’s what the current generation is also getting back to.

Problems of considering menstruation as a taboo, women feeling uncomfortable to buy products or unaffordability of the product can be solved by using cloth pads.

There is an unnecessary negativity associated with cloth pads. For instance say, 40 percent of women are using cloth pad is reported.  Why do we as a society end up asking them to use sanitary napkins, which are so hazardous to women’s health as well as the environment?  Why not, spread awareness about the ways to effectively use cloth pads?

Usage of cloth pad is now considered sustainable as well as hygienic for a women’s health.

Cloth pads are easy to make at home and are also easily available in the market. It’s quite cheap and durable as compared to sanitary napkins. The cloth pads need to be just washed in hot water, sanitized with an anti-septic and dried under the sun. Then it is perfectly reusable. A cloth pad can be used for three years. This is what we need to emphasis on as a society to those people who cannot afford sanitary napkins. Help them to use basic resources to have a healthy menstruation which is easily accessible and affordable.

If a good percentage of women already use cotton and cloth pads, it should be considered as a good sign. Awareness of better usage and ways to use them should be emphasized. Manufacturing of such products are also easy and can generate employment among women. We should concentrate on optimum usage of resources which are eco-friendly, hygienic and affordable.  And not be one of the rats in the consumeristic rat race.

Also Read : Switch to Sustainable Menstruation: Menstrual cups & Cloth Pads

Reshma Ganeshbabu is an intern with SheThePeople.TV