Anamika is a school-going girl from a village in Uttar Pradesh, India. Her father and mother work in a sweet shop to earn a living and provide for Anamika and her older brother’s education. Anamika is bright and hard working, as her teacher at school describes her. We met her during a menstrual hygiene awareness program at her school.
Anamika started her periods 3 years ago and was excited to learn about reusable menstrual hygiene products. She uses disposable pads to manage her periods which her friend suggested and she introduced them to her mother too. Earlier her mother used home clothes to manage menstruation.
She informed us that her brother goes to the convenience store every month to buy a packet for her and their mother. Two packets cost them around Rs. 200/ $2.50. She mentioned that even when NGOs come to distribute sanitary pads, each woman gets 1 packet which only takes care of a maximum of 2 menstrual cycles.
They find buying disposable pads expensive so they try to utilise one pad to the greatest extent possible. Sometimes she changes her pad after 12-15 hours. Anamika told us that buying menstrual hygiene products is an added financial burden for her family since they have to buy them every month.
Anamika informed us that her mother experiences discomfort due to constant vaginal itching. She has not consulted a doctor yet as she thinks it is not important. We explained to Anamika why it is important to check with a doctor as her mother could have developed yeast infection due to sweat/moisture formed by using plastic pads or it could be something more serious like sexually transmitted infection or genital herpes. She now understands the need to visit a doctor.
Anamika was happy to receive reusable sanitary pads as she said that now they would not need to spend on menstrual hygiene products every month. Anamika and her mother’s story is the sad reality of many rural women.