Deciphering The Existence Of Period Poverty & Menstrual (Un)Hygiene In India

Khurana and Khurana


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The study aims to delve into the issue of menstrual hygiene management and concerns over period poverty to showcase the prevalence of period poverty in India with the help of the data collected from the respondents.
India Food, Drugs, Healthcare, Life Sciences
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The research paper aims to delve into the question of how Period Poverty affects the psychological well-being of a girl or woman, as the case may be. It attempts to showcase its prevalence in India. It also analyses the question of whether the government(s) fail to provide basic infrastructural facilities, thereby giving birth to multifarious concerns. Thus, it is essential to have a clear definition of certain keywords primarily used in the research.

Menstruation or Periods

Menstruation is a natural biological process in which a woman releases blood and other materials from the uterine lining at around one lunar month intervals from puberty until menopause. Menstruation occurs on a monthly basis to prepare a woman's body for pregnancy. It often begins between the ages of 11 and 14 and lasts until menopause, which occurs at the age of 51. It lasts for two to five days on average. Menstruation causes stomach or pelvic cramping discomfort, bloating and painful breasts, lower back pain, mood changes and irritability, headaches, and weariness, in addition to the vaginal discharge of blood and tissues.

Period Poverty

'Period Poverty,' as the name implies, is largely a financial problem that may be easily defined as a lack of essential menstruation sanitary goods, sanitation facilities, and proper awareness. It leads to greater economic vulnerability due to the financial burden created by menstruation hygiene essentials, and girls and/or women living in rural regions are disproportionately affected. Menstrual essentials incorporate not only sanitary pads and napkins, but also items pain alleviating medicines and undergarments.

Menstrual Hygiene Products

The menstrual hygiene products are the materials that are primarily used to catch menstrual flow. Other supportive goods for period hygiene and health in general, such as soap, underwear, and pain medication, are referred to as menstruation supplies. Around the world, a variety of menstrual hygiene products are offered under a variety of brand names. Many items are touted by their manufacturers as being appropriate, culturally acceptable, cost-effective, or having a low environmental impact. However, few of these assertions are backed up by reliable evidence on usability and user acceptance in their respective cultures. The most common menstrual hygiene products are:

  • reusable and washable cloth pads,
  • commercial sanitary pads,
  • tampons,
  • reusable tampons,
  • menstrual cups,
  • bamboo fibre pads,
  • banana fibre pads,
  • water hyacinth pads, etc.


(Shriya Roy, 2021) in her article titled 'What is Period Poverty?' published in feminisminindia endeavours to put forth her perspective on the question of how conversations around menstruation often tend to overlook the intersectionality of class, caste, and gender. The study demonstrates how societal taboos and a lack of information play a significant role in legitimising and sustaining the stigma associated with menstruation. According to the author, the decision between menstruation cups, tampons, and pads is a daily debate for some people in India, whereas the bulk of people do not have the means or the luxury to choose any of these period products. Pads, the most widely accessible sanitary product, are out of reach for most women/girls. Furthermore, sanitary napkins are scarce in distant places. In addition, according to a National Family Health Welfare (NFHS-5) survey, Bihar has the lowest rate of women utilising safe menstruation products, at 58.8 per cent. However, as a result of a few welfare measures done by the Government of India, the percentage of women using menstrual hygiene products has increased throughout States and Union Territories, according to the poll.

(Erica Sanchez, Leah Rodriguez, 2019) in their article titled 'Period Poverty: Everything You Need to Know' published in the Global Citizen mentions that Period Poverty not only affects women and girls but boys as well. The paper details the societal taboos that exist in many countries such as Nepal, Uganda, and others, all of which contribute to the spread of this wicked behaviour. In Nepal, for example, menstrual women are considered dirty by their culture and are confined to shelters during their periods. Despite the fact that menstruation huts are technically prohibited, families continue to risk their lives because myths and misconceptions are strongly embedded in Nepalese culture. The study also discusses the negative consequences that poor menstrual hygiene can have for women. As a result of a lack of menstrual hygiene management, young girls frequently miss school. Those who do not obtain an education are also more prone to engage in child marriages and suffer from early pregnancy, malnutrition, domestic violence, and pregnancy difficulties as a result of their lack of education.

(The Borgen Project, 2019) is a project that primarily endeavours to fight existing extreme poverty and hunger. The article titled 'Top Five Facts about Period Poverty in India' puts forth five different results that arise as a result of Period Poverty viz., increased risk of diseases, cultural stereotype and its impact, high costs of sanitation facilities, period poverty in India affecting the education of girls and removal of taxes. The menstrual disparity is typically created by embarrassment around the topic, as well as the high expense of feminine products, according to the report. This poses educational difficulties as well as an increased risk of sickness. However, many great steps are being made, and governments are beginning to recognise that menstruation hygiene is a topic worth advocating for.

(Laura Rossouw, Hana Ross, 2021) in their paper titled "Understanding Period Poverty: Socio-Economic Inequalities in Menstrual Hygiene Management in Eight Low- and Middle-Income Countries" provide empirical evidence of the inequality in menstrual hygiene management using concentration indices and decomposition methods in Kinshasa (DRC), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rajasthan (India), Indonesia, Nigeria, and Uganda. While affluence is one of the main determinants of unequal access to menstrual hygiene management, other socioeconomic, environmental, and family issues also require immediate governmental attention. According to the data gathered, 57% of Rajasthani women and girls do not use sanitary pads for menstruation hygiene. Furthermore, the study shows that as per the large and negative concentration indices for "No pads used" in Rajasthan, the lack of access to menstrual hygiene products is primarily prevalent among the "poor." In Rajasthan, 22 per cent of the poor have only access to menstrual hygiene management and are either unaware of or unable to pay it.

(Sasmita Sen and Rituparna Dey, 2021) in their article titled "Period Poverty in context of women on road: A study in New Delhi" conduct an empirical study with an aim to examine the concept of "Period Poverty" with special reference to women living on the road. They also try to come up with some possible solutions to help them improve their situation. In Delhi, a qualitative research study was conducted. Semi-structured interview guides were used to conduct in-depth interviews with diverse stakeholders, including women on the road, gynaecologists, and NGO members. Individual and group interviews were also documented with field notes. The Rigorous and Accelerated Data Reduction (RADaR) technique was used to analyse the data. According to the findings, women on the road confront challenges such as privacy, shortage of restrooms and water, security, scientific understanding, and the use of unsanitary menstruation products.

As per the research conducted by Bharathalakshmi et al., (2014) on a sample population, sanitary pad usage in urban regions ranges from 50 to 90 per cent, while it ranges from 00 to 65 per cent in rural areas as per the studies conducted by Kamath et al. and Shah et al. in 2013. Furthermore, the rate of sanitary pad use in urban slums is substantially lower than the typical urban rate, which is nearly equivalent to the rate in rural areas. However, as per the studies of Baridalyne & Reddaiah, (2004) and Garg et al., (2001), in Delhi's slums and resettlement colonies, it ranges from 2.9 to 28%. These patterns indicate the severe disparities in menstrual hygiene management among different communities and highlight the critical need for hygiene, health, and sanitation programmes for the urban and rural poor population. The outcomes of this study imply that any intervention strategy aimed at improving menstrual health management in India should prioritise rural areas and slums.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Deciphering The Existence Of Period Poverty & Menstrual (Un)Hygiene In India

India Food, Drugs, Healthcare, Life Sciences


K&K is among leading IP and Commercial Law Practices in India with rankings and recommendations from Legal500, IAM, Chambers & Partners, AsiaIP, Acquisition-INTL, Corp-INTL, and Managing IP. K&K represents numerous entities through its 9 offices across India and over 160 professionals for varied IP, Corporate, Commercial, and Media/Entertainment Matters.
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