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STAYFREE® HOSTS PANEL DISCUSSION TO BREAK THE SILENCE AROUND MENSTRUATION HYGIENE IN INDIA

Stayfree® commits to the cause by educating 100 million young girls in India by 2018 on menstrual hygiene and protection 

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Mumbai, May 27, 2015: Stayfree®, India’s leading women’s health and hygiene brand today hosted a panel discussion on India’s least-spoken about social topic, ‘Menstruation’, with an aim to spread awareness around the need for educating young girls and women about menstrual hygiene. Following the panel discussion, Stayfree® also announced the launch of its free educational YouTube channel that will assist women in getting a better understanding about menstruation.

Panelists included experts and well-known personalities in their fields such as Gul Panag, Actress, Activist & Former Beauty Queen; Dr. Anita Soni, Obstetrics & Gynecology Consultant at Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital; Sinu Joseph, Counselor & Menstrual Hygiene Educator and Lina Ashar, Founder & Chairperson of Kangaroo Kids Education who shared relevant anecdotes and insights on the topic.

Good menstrual hygiene is a critical indicator of the holistic progress of women, socially and economically, because there is a very strong connection between hygienic menstrual practices and overall health. In India, despite the economic progress that has been made in the last several years, over 80% of women still do not have access to adequate sanitary protection during menstruation. In India, feminine hygiene and menstruation, being a sensitive topic, is not discussed openly, and women often continue to harbor myths and misconceptions about it, since no one amongst their family and friends is able to educate them. Additionally, mothers are often not in a position to guide their daughters correctly, since their own knowledge is limited. Over time, unhygienic practices due to low awareness and education levels can adversely impact the health and productivity of these women. According to the report, awareness on basic health and feminine hygiene in India is very low, with 75% rural women lacking adequate knowledge on menstrual hygiene and care.

“We strongly believe that education dispels fear and prepares young girls to recognize menstruation as being a natural process and face it with confidence” stated Ganesh Bangalore, General Manager – Marketing, Consumer Business, at Johnson & Johnson India. “That’s why Stayfree is investing behind educating 100 million young girls in India over the next 3 years.”

Speaking during the panel discussion, Gul Panag shared, “Menstruation is a natural process and is not something that a woman or girl should be embarrassed about. During my growing up years and even today, I see women and girls shying away from mentioning the ‘M’ word. Women try and come up with innovative ways to state the word in public, but you don’t see a man cringing publicly or feeling sorry about what he wants to say. And all this shushing and discouragement is affecting women and girls basic right to get educated on a topic that is a monthly occurrence till they reach menopause. I feel strongly about a women’s right to educate herself and applaud Stayfree for holding this discussion.”

Dr. Anita Soni, Obstetrics & Gynecology consultant at Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital, stated that “Today, almost every household will have at least one woman or girl who suffers from irregularities in her menstrual cycle but the reported cases will be few due to the stigma associated with talking openly about the red-letter day. Most women and girls do not understand or give as much importance to their menstrual issues, hence a lot of women do not follow simple hygienic practices like use of sanitary napkins or the right usage of same”

Ms. Sinu Joseph, Counselor & Menstrual Hygiene educator, spoke about the need to start talking about menstruation. According to her, “When we don’t talk about it, we do not think enough about our body and miss the signs when we need attention. While education about menstrual hygiene is important, it is even more important to stop looking at menstruation as a disease needing a cure. Menstruation is the most ancient and reliable tool for women to assess their health and well-being, naturally. Beginning to respect your menstrual cycle is the first step towards being healthy. Menstrual Hygiene should be addressed at homes, schools, community centers, health centers, women hostels and at the work place.” 

Lina Ashar, Founder & Chairperson of Kangaroo Kids Education, stated that, “Menstruation is not something that a girl needs to feel ashamed of. It is essential for schools to understand and make requisite arrangements so that a girl student need not skip school due to menstruation or drop out completely as soon as she reaches puberty. After all, it is a natural biological process and needs to be seen as such. There is nothing “dirty” or “unclean” about it; let’s stop treating it as a life-threatening contagious disease.”

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