While movements raising awareness about menstruation are catching pace, a group of working women here called for sensitisation of office spaces when it comes to issues like menstrual hygiene. Speaking at the recently held National Menstrual Conclave, a group of working women urged for raising awareness among their male colleagues, besides emphasising on the need for office administration to ensure a safer and friendly environment while they are on periods.
For Paroma Roy Chowdhury, Vice President of SoftBank, having a comfortable place in offices for women during their periods is one of the basic needs that should be taken care of by the office.
“Having worked in corporate sector for decades, I have felt that there is a lack of women friendly policies when it comes to issues like menstrual hygiene. In several organisations women work during odd hours and it becomes difficult for them to manage everything.” She suggested the availability of a visiting gynaecologist and counsellor to address any related queries. Introduction of pad vending machines and changing patriarchal mindsets are also imperative, she said.
“We must have policies that sensitise men and there must be a counsellor and a gynaecologist visiting offices every week to discuss such issues. It must be a core part of the human resources in any organisation,” said Chowdhury.
“Younger girls working in offices are more at the mercy of patriarchy. We need to have a strategic start like having a pad vending machine in office to change mindsets,” she said. The panel also called for having special programmes focused on sensitising people in rural areas.
Anika Parashar, COO of Fortis- La Femme (hospital range for women and children) said they have decided to open specific centers to help women with issues they cannot discuss openly. “I made this discovery that women in this country have special care centers only for pregnancy. We have also decided to start concrete menopause programmes in OPDs, schools and colleges. It will involve education related to hygiene and will cover other issues like depression,” said Parashar.
Organised by a city-based NGO Sachhi Saheli in association with Aakar and Something Creative, the panel also saw participation by Ananya Ghoshal, senior programme manager, WASH United, and Kamini Prakash from Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC). Prakash said that WSSCC wants to include menstruation hygiene in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan for a wider reach.
“By including menstrual hygiene in programmes started by the government, we will be able to reach out to groups that are usually left behind. We are also working closely with IITs to create diagrams that are highly interactive and will help children to understand these issues better,” she said.