Celebrated author, newspaper columnist, film producer and former Bollywood star Twinkle Khanna has joined forces with Save the Children to promote rights to menstrual hygiene and adolescent health among children and the communities. Twinkle Khanna today visited slums in Govandi, where Save the Children and its partner agency Apnalaya, undertook an awareness programme, to interact with adolescents from the community. She encouraged and felicitated children who are ‘Hygiene Champions’ applauded their efforts to break taboos around the subject and bring about a behavioral change in the community.
Twinkle Khanna, Artist Ambassador, Save the Children shared, “I am delighted to join Save the Children to promote adolescent health and menstrual hygiene. Through the adolescent health program, I have firsthand interacted with the youth and learnt of the strides being made towards changing mindsets, at a time when their habits are not yet ingrained. It is uplifting to partner with Save the Children & Apnalaya for programs that do not just educate girls but also boys to work towards a more progressive society”.
She also felicitated 30 young boys and girls as ‘Hygiene Champions’ today at Shivaji Nagar (Govandi) with Save the Children and Apnalya. She further added, ‘I had a wonderful interaction with some inspiring young champions who are leading the change in their communities. Saleha’s journey as a young ‘Changemaker’, and her accomplishments as an SDG ‘Goalkeeper’ and speaker at the UN General Assembly in New York recently, is an inspiration to many other adolescents who want to bring about a behavioural change in communities. Access to basic health and hygiene should not be a matter of chance but choice and rights. Taboos and lack of awareness around something as natural as menstruation push more than 50 per cent of women to most unhygienic practices. We need to push boundaries, and we need to have more open, honest conversations around menstruation to begin with starting within our own minds and homes.”
Maharashtra— India’s second largest state — has nearly 19 million adolescent girls and women of menstrual age live (55 per cent of total rural female population of the state, GOVERNMENT OF INDIA , 2011). Faced with stigma, embarrassment, and often a total lack of information, almost 60-70 per cent girls in the state were found to have been skipping school when they had their periods. This revelation was made in the Government Resolution (GR) issued by state. Save the Children is a leading Child rights NGO in India that works to provide under privileged children health, education and protection. As of 2018, Save the Children has reached over 1 Crore children in India. Save the Children’s program on adolescent health educates and emphasizes on hygiene as an essential part of menstruation management for girls to have a safe period. This enables them to grow with self-esteem and get opportunities of growth. “
“Access to basic health and hygiene should not be a matter of chance but choice and rights. Therefore, we need to push boundaries, and we need to have more open, honest conversations around menstruation to begin with” adds Bidisha Pillai, CEO, Save the Children.
Twinkle will promote Save the Children priorities in the area of adolescent health – that includes influencing social behavior change to overcome social taboos, misconceptions and misbeliefs on menstrual hygiene, empowering adolescent girls to take appropriate decisions on management of menstruation, improving the reach and quality of low-cost pads, improving access to sanitation (toilets) at schools and in communities, inculcating hygiene and sanitation behaviors and practices for better management of menstruation in schools and communities.
Dr. Arun Kumar, CEO, Apnalaya added, “23 million (2.30crore) girls dropping out of school because of the onset of menstruation is one such instance. Menstrual health should be seen as part of overall health and not in isolation. It is not just about a sanitary napkin. It is as much about water and our social outlook to women’s health.”
Limited access to functioning toilets remains a barrier and disproportionately impacts menstruating girls and women. The experience of menstruation is even more challenging for out-of-school girls, girls with physical or mental disabilities and adolescents who live on the street. Census of street children in urban areas like Delhi and Mumbai have shown that almost 20–30 per cent of street children are girls and for those living on the streets to use paid public toilets is an added economic burden. To address the growing concerns, the Maharashtra government launched the Asmita Yojana Scheme to educate children on menstrual hygiene and create more awareness on the issue. In a first such move in this field, the state also set up a task force at the district as well as the state level, to monitor implementation of this initiative in schools.
Saleha, a Govandi Slum resident & Child Champion with Save the Children explains, “The lack of awareness on menstrual health and hygiene is not just limited to Govandi. Education about it is critical and it gets aggravated with non-availability of basic amenities like water”.
About Save the Children
Save the Children works across 20 states of India and in 120 countries, on issues related to education, health, protection and humanitarian/DRR needs of children, especially for those who are the most deprived and marginalized. Save the Children’s s association with India is more than 80-years-old. Visit www.savethechildren.in for more information.