Menstruation is a natural process that is actually a blessing for women. It is a major development in every woman’s life, as every single woman in the world experiences this phenomenon. Unfortunately, it is considered a tough phase for most teenage girls.
Menstrual Hygiene in Pakistan
At least 500 million women and girls globally lack adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management (MHM). Menstrual Hygiene is vital to the well-being of women and girls worldwide. It is not only about access to sanitary pads and appropriate toilets, it is also about ensuring women and girls live in an environment that supports their ability to manage their menstruation with dignity.
Pakistan is a conservative country where society finds it difficult to educate young girls about menstrual hygiene as they reach puberty. Girls in Pakistan still practice obsolete and unhygienic menstruation care. Due to continued secrecy, lack of awareness and sparse knowledge from society, a culture of silence is commonly observed. Girls are seen whispering in each other’s ears regarding how they manage their periods. Moreover, sanitary pads are kept hidden with the pressure of embarrassment from family and society. Despite knowing that menstruation is a natural process for women, society reacts as if it is something odd, strange, and unusual. Due to this, many women prefer not to go out and shop for sanitary pads as they feel ashamed purchasing sanitary pads from male shopkeepers. When buying from modern walk-in stores, they are quick to hide sanitary pads in a brown paper bag.
Challenges faced by young women
Traditionally, rags, cloths and, cotton wool are used by women in Pakistan to soak menstrual blood. Less than 1/5th Pakistani women use sanitary napkins and the ones used are often not of good quality to avoid leakage and, consequently, it turns out extremely embarrassing for them to witness stains while being part of any gathering or routine activities. Owing to this fear of leakage and bad odour, girls in Pakistan prefer to miss routine activities during their monthly cycle. Going to schools, colleges, universities, offices, or any sort of gatherings where they would feel uncomfortable is avoided. Life for that duration is put on hold! As per the latest reports, every 2 in 10 girls miss their school due to periods as they lack access to proper sanitary hygiene. Missing school is not only an interruption in routine but also increases their chances of losing a bright future while making them feel isolated from society.
Periods – still a taboo
Many Pakistani girls first learn about menstruation when they experience it for the first time; they reach the age of puberty unprepared and unable to process this sudden change in their lives. With little to no knowledge about menstrual cycle and the physiology behind it, these girls regard period as a burden in their lives. Moreover, due to the secrecy around it as well as the interruption of daily life caused by it, these girls feel isolated, confused and disturbed. It is the primary duty and responsibility of all important members of society to create healthy and informed youngsters. Lack of family support makes it highly stressful for girls to manage menstruation properly. When girls have their periods every month, they have to keep it a secret from every male member at home. They keep their sanitary pads in a secret spot at home and concealed from other family members. Sadly, this has become a normal practice in Pakistani society. Mothers teach their daughters not to talk openly about having periods. It makes girls go through a feeling of isolation even while being at home.
An 18-year-old girl in Pakistan describing her experience through a U-Report poll on menstrual hygiene management (MHM) shares, “When I first got my period, I didn’t tell anyone for several days because I was ashamed. It took me two months to open up to my mother.”
Life uninterrupted - facilitate girls in managing their periods
If we educate girls at the school level about menstruation and the associated physiological changes, it will familiarise them with this natural phenomenon beforehand and mentally prepare them for the inevitable change. It is also important to teach them about the best menstrual hygiene practices and ways to manage physiological changes like cramps and body aches during periods. Most importantly, they must know personal hygiene is crucial and for that purpose, they should choose reliable sanitary napkins like Molped by Hayat Kimya – a leading Turkish FMCG, that will give them hygienic protection for long hours without any fear of leakage or bad odour.
A globally-renowned sanitary brand, Molped is now in Pakistan with Esra Bilgiç as the face of the brand. “I am extremely excited to be a part of this brand. We have started a journey from Turkey to Pakistan. The brand is well known in my country since 1999 and loved by women in different countries, is now in Pakistan, and I’m really happy to be a part of this family. Here, we aim to provide the most comfortable products, spread awareness, educate women about hygiene and enable them to live life without interruptions,” says Esra.
The company has introduced Hygiene Shield Portfolio in Pakistan which has been specifically designed for Pakistani women, keeping in mind their needs based on extensive research. Hygiene Shield is an anti-germ layer which will provide superior absorption, odour protection, and long hours of hygiene during periods. This in turn will ensure that Pakistani girls and women alike do not miss out on life and continue as per normal without any interruptions even during their periods.