The Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) school near Pune Airport was on Monday transformed into a beehive of activity as 1,700 adolescents gathered in the school premises to attempt a Guinness World Record on generating awareness on menstrual health and hygiene.
Organisers of the event claimed that this was the largest ever group of adolescent girls and boys “under one roof” for such a awareness session. on menstrual health and hygiene.
The programme was the joint initiative of the Bengaluru-based Motherhood Hospital, a leading healthcare chain specialising in women and children’s health and the Pune-based Spherule Foundation, an NGO that works on women’s empowerment and health-related issues.
“We were recently approached by the Records Committee of the Guinness Book of World Records who encouraged us to conduct this event on a larger scale as we had been specializing in the field of women and children’s health. Hence, we tied up with the Spherule Foundation to conceptualize this event of educating adolescent girls and boys on the importance of menstrual health and hygiene,” said Dr. Rajeshwari Pawar, consultant, gynaecologist and obstetrician, Motherhood Hospitals.
In her 40-minute address, Dr. Pawar addressed the students in a lively 40-minute speech in which she spoke of the importance of menstrual hygiene and busted stereotypes and myths associated with the subject.
She said the unique initiative was aimed at dispelling the many doubts faced by young girls regarding menstruation.
“The point of this gathering is to spark awareness among girls and boys on a subject often swept under the carpet,” said Dr. Pawar.
She observed that a 2016 survey conducted by UNICEF in the Indian hinterland showed that 80% of the subjects stored their menstrual cloth in an unsanitary place for further use while 50% failed to dry their menstrual rags outside and in full sunlight which is an essential condition required to kill bacteria.
“Our joint initiative is trying to help our society understand the importance of menstruation and how to overcome the stigma around it,” remarked Dr. Pawar.
“The global silence and shame around menstruation is alarming. In India alone, 23 million girls drop out of schools annually. This translates into one in every five girls owing to lack of menstrual hygiene management facilities, like availability of sanitary napkins and a logical awareness of menstruation,” said Dr. Geeta Bora, Founder, Spherule Foundation.
Speaking on the initiative, Vijayarathna V, CEO, Motherhood Hospitals, said: “There is a huge societal gap and lack of knowledge on menstrual hygiene. In India barely 18% of 355 million menstruating women use sanitary napkins with the rest unable to afford them, often resorting to using unhygienic substances such as newspapers, sand, leaves, mud or unsterilised clothes leading to vaginal and urinary tract infections, infertility and other reproductive health complications.”