BENGALURU: There is growing awareness today about the need to switch to sustainable menstruation. The national campaign – Green the Red – started about a year-and-a-half ago, and had helped a lot of women switch to sustainable menstrual products, such as cloth pads and menstrual cups.
While several women benefited from these rash-free, economical and environmentally-friendly alternatives, the one hurdle that volunteers of this campaign would face during their awareness-building activities was when women would hear about these products and then go to their gynaecologists.
The gynaecs would shoot down the idea, says Seema Das, who works with Bengaluru-based Stonesoup that is producing and supplying sustainable menstrual products, and is a supporter of Green the Red. “It was disheartening to hear about how doctors lacked awareness about the hazards of disposable menstrual products. This gave birth to The Greener Doctrine, a month-long awareness-building campaign that culminated on May 28 – World Menstrual Hygiene Day,” says Das, adding that the campaign is supported by the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI).
“Around 70-80 doctors got involved in this campaign to help spread awareness within the medical fraternity. Programmes were held to inform doctors about the newer methods in period care. Within a month, around 7,000 medical professionals from across India got involved, and we now know that they are atleast aware about these products,” says Seema.
Dr Meenakshi Bharat, who is now involved in civic advocacy, says, “People from across the country have taken to this initiative with a lot of enthusiasm. Several doctors have gotten involved in the last month, across 30 cities, and we were able to spread awareness in a way that it has made a noteable difference. Many of these doctors were not comfortable with these sustainable menstruation products at first, and were also unaware of the hazards of using them. This month-long campaign has helped reach out to these doctors.”
“I got on the sustainable menstruation bandwagon of late, and wish I had discovered them sooner. After I used the products for about six months, I was able to take a stand, and that’s when I got involved, says Dr Aruna Muralidhar, senior consultant-obstetrician, Fortis La Femme, adding, “Dr Bharat and I prepared a presentation and would take kits with us to demonstrate and educate other doctors. Some nurses at Fortis have now switched, and I make it a point to let my patients know that these products exist.”
The way forward
One of the ways in which education was being spread was through a radio campaign. RJ Prithvi, who works with a popular radio channel, says, “For the past two weeks , I’ve been hosting a show based on the Greener Doctrine. Men should also become aware and promote sustainable menstruation among their sisters, mothers and friends. I will also continue to promote it off-air too, till every single woman is aware. On-air as well, whenever someone wants to convey something about this or drive a campaign, I will welcome them with open arms.”
Das adds that the campaign doesn’t end here. “One month is not enough. Even now, we volunteers still get calls to host workshops, and we will continue to host them. Dr Bharat and Dr Muralidhar have also made a video that is on YouTube, in which they answer questions related to re-useable, environment-friendly products.”