Working with disaster-hit women across India, we know that after a disaster their menstrual challenges become more acute, humiliating, putting their well being and health at a big risk. Our team recently spoke about this to the Cyclone Fani hit women in Puri District of Odisha.
“I borrowed an undergarment from my daughter (when I got my periods) in the relief camp. It was unexpected, I was not prepared for it. I only had one undergarment. In fact, all of us borrow from each other in the village but during Fani, I was not even prepared for the basics. I didn’t have enough resources.” shared a woman from Bhatapda village. “I mostly wore wet undergarments. I had no other option as I had only 1-2 pairs. I washed and used the same again and again” said another. Sanitary pads or clean cloth is mostly unavailable after a disaster. Rina Perhda from Mallagram village shared that she would tear her only saree every month to use it as a pad. During their stay in shelter homes, many women end up using unclean sarees, bedsheet, and dhoties, for this need. In the absence of enough cloth women also delay changing the pad. “My whole body was in pain during my menstrual days and all the clothes were wet. “ said Sangita Priyadarshini, from Sanadhi village in Puri district of Odisha.
Goonj works closely with women on this issue under it’s ‘Not Just a Piece of Cloth’ Initiative, using cloth pads made urban surplus cloth, as a tool to break the culture of shame and silence around it. To know more, log on to www.goonj.org/njpc