Divya Khosla Kumar rallies audience on female hygiene at She Wings’ International Women’s Week conference
Noted filmmaker and actor Divya Khosla Kumar addressed parents and educators at an event organised by She Wings at Amity University’s International Women’s Week conference in New Delhi yesterday where she stressed on the importance of female menstrual hygiene. Her heartfelt and passionate speech on the subject earned enthusiastic applause and a standing ovation from the audience.
She started her talk by posing a question to the audience, asking, “Did you know that only 12 per cent of Indian women can actually afford to buy a sanitary napkin?”
She continued, “We need urgent discussion on female menstrual hygiene on a big and national level to arrive at proper solutions. In India, not many talk about this issue openly, which leads to several misconceptions. For example, companies that sell napkins claim that their products provide day-long protection. This is not true. In reality, women need to change their sanitary pads at least every four hours a day to be truly safe and hygienic.” She also pointed out that many girls and women today in rural parts of India still use unsanitised cloth and this continues to pose a serious health threat to the nation.
Even as the audience listened in rapt attention, she urged not only women but also men to educate themselves on this subject. “Girls and even the boys must educate themselves and talk openly about this issue. Parents, we urgently need more discussion on this topic. What sort of discussion do we need, you might ask? Take the example of disposal of sanitary pads. When we dispose them, we need to wrap them in a newspaper, put them in a plastic bag and then dispose them. But if you go to a slum, you will see sanitary pads not only lying openly discarded but many times stuffed in drains, often clogging the sewage system, which leads to more problems. Disposing sanitary napkins without wrapping them leads to infection in the community. Even rag pickers are reluctant to take open, disposed sanitary napkins and this leads to the napkins rotting on the wayside, which spreads more disease,” she said.
She pointed out the fact that sanitary pads are made from plastic which is non-biodegradable. “If not disposed properly and hygienically, the chances of them not being recycled is high and this is also bad for the environment. The monsoon compounds this problem, she added, saying, “Our environment and collective health are interlinked.”
Talking about the event, she said, “I am glad to be here today and honoured to share the dais with Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare and Rekha Sharma, Member with additional charge of Chairperson, National Commission for Women (NCW). That we can actually have this discussion openly, is a great thing. Solutions will not happen in a day. We need to constantly have this dialog to reach better solutions.”
Kumar concluded by saying, “I am sure the people who attended the event today will give this a serious thought and will discuss this among themselves to find solutions. Thank you She Wings for giving me this opportunity to be part of this discussion.”