SEWA Bihar Seeks to End Sanitary Napkin Tax

Menstrual hygiene in India is often a taboo subject in schools and  the home. Girls and women are receive little education on proper sanitatary techniques and face cultural restrictions while menstruating. According to Dasra, 88% of menstruating women in India use home-grown alternatives such as old fabric, rags, sand, ash, wood shavings, newspapers, dried leaves, hay and plastic. Unsanitary products can cause health problems, such as infection and toxic shock sydrome. Along with cultural restrictions, poor awareness and health curtails girls’ participation in school, reduces economic opportunity for women, and can lead discriminatory treatment of women. For the last three years, SEWA Bharat has focused on educating women and men in rural communities in Bihar on the menstrual cycle in order to reduce cultural barriers and promote safer hygienic practices.

On May 28th, our teams in Munger and Bhagalpur, Bihar celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day. Between the two districts, over 800 members of the community were present and broke down cultural stigmas and social barriers to promote conversation about menstrual health. Additionally, over 400 women campaigned for tax free sanitary napkins. Members also brought their husbands, sons, and fathers to the event to encourage conversation across gender lines

The event hosted chief guests from health, educational, and government sectors. In Bhagalpur, the event hosted two gynecologists, Dr. Pratibha Singh and Dr. Leena Nair from IMA,  from The Department of Health Manager and MOIC , and several local teachers and professors were present  teachers were present. Along with the guests, members shared and presented their experiences and views on difficulties with menstrual hygeine and awareness in rural communities in Bihar.

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