41 per cent of women in favour of menstrual leave: Online survey. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, May 28 : More than 80 percent of the menstruating population has experienced some form of negative emotion such as fear, anxiety during their first period, reveals an online survey.

The survey was conducted with regards to the awareness on menstrual hygiene, taboos, perceptions and attitudes towards periods in India. It also added that the majority of men seem to rely on social media sources about the information on periods.

To mark the World Menstrual Hygiene Day, Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with Water, Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) published the findings of the survey which was launched online in September 2019 and conducted over a period of 12 weeks.

It collected a total of over 11,161 responses (in Hindi and English) and gathered preferences from respondents on issues of product usage, productivity at the workplace; cultural practices and beliefs, and explored the intersections around menstrual hygiene and health, gender, emotional and mental well-being, etc.

The respondents of the survey were primarily female, constituting 74.3 percent of respondents, followed by 22 percent of respondents identifying as male. The remaining identified themselves as Non-binary, Trans, and those who didn't prefer to specify.

Key highlights of the survey:

Sustainable menstrual hygiene products: Almost 71 percent of those who responded agreed to use non-biodegradable sanitary napkins and almost 63 percent recognised that it is harmful to the environment. But affordability and the issue of trust remained a barrier in menstruators making a clear switch to biodegradable alternatives.

Young people are more open to conversation around menstrual hygiene. More than 28 percent of respondents in the age group of 18-22 said they were comfortable speaking about menstruation while only 27 percent agreed to that in the age group of 23-25 years.

Negative emotions associated with first periods: Fear and anxiety were the dominant-negative emotions for the women experiencing their first period with more than 23 percent of respondents opting for that.

Need for a relook at menstrual leave policy: Almost 41 percent of the respondents were in favour of introducing a Bill in Parliament around the menstrual leave.

Cultural taboos exist: Almost 49.2 percent of respondents admitted that they have heard activities like "Praying" should be avoided during periods. And 51.1 per cent respondents admitted they have been isolated or excluded from an event because of menstruation.

Lack of diversity around menstrual hygiene in India: More than 47 percent of respondents felt that menstruation is a "women's only issue". The majority were not aware that periods are also a non-binary and Trans men issue. So much so, that only 10 percent of respondents felt that the needs of the non-binary and trans population are being met around menstrual hygiene.

Anshul Tewari, founder, Youth Ki Awaaz said: "It is not surprising that there is a complete lack of an inclusive dialogue around menstrual hygiene and informed product choices. This survey shows, for the first time, how young people feel about this issue. We hope that this data can become a template for meaningful policy dialogue and action that can help us create a more structural, systemic change for menstruating people across the country." (Puja Gupta can be contacted at puja.g@ians.in)

-- Syndicated from IANS

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