Fragile situation and prospects surrounding menstruation health of women in Bangladesh

Sumit Banik:

Rimi Chakma, Master Trainer facilitating the session on Reusable Sanitary pad Making

The implementation of various development activities has started with the aim of bringing a positive change in Bangladesh on Menstruation. Many concerned people are now beginning to realize why there is so much superstition about an important biological matter in a woman’s life! 

On a positive note, there is now massive development and research activities going on among the people regarding misconceptions existing in different cultures that led to discrimination against menstruating women and adolescents girls for a long time. This is a natural and biological aspect of a woman’s life, why would women deviate from the normal pace and flow of their lives during menstruation? Not only that, there is a lot of work going on to change the global context by changing all the superstitions, stereotypes, and negative attitudes about menstruation around the world. 


However, menstruation is an integral part of a woman’s life that includes not only reproductive health but also her overall well-being. We need to change the negative attitude of men and women towards menstruation, as well as to those who have not yet started their first menstrual period or those who are menstruating, the opportunity to use the right and healthy products during menstruation; it should be taken more seriously. In addition, it is important that a girl or woman should not be deprived of her health rights or be discriminated against due to menstruation.


According to recent news published in the Indian media, as part of women’s empowerment and to increase women’s health awareness, the government has installed a sanitary pad machine at the party’s headquarters. From that device, women and girls will get sanitary napkins for only 1 Rs. According to news sources, sanitary pads will be handed over to about 50 million women in the country through 6,000 public medicine centers for just Rs. 1 as an implementation of the promise made in an election manifesto. 


I have no intention to compare with health development initiative of Bangladesh with our neighboring country where the government is taking initiatives to install sanitary napkin machinery for women’s health awareness.  Unfortunately, we do not seem to be fully equipped to take such an initiative. If we think about marginalized people in the remote areas of the hill tracts areas of Bangladesh, we can see in various news and research reports published in the media that the situation there is vulnerable. Women and adolescents girls in urban areas use sanitary pads during the menstrual period for its management. If we consider the long-term aftermath, a sanitary pad is a simple solution for menstruation management effectively. But sanitary pads are not readily available for women and adolescents in those remote areas of our country, and many people are unable to purchase the pads. 


I would like to draw attention to some recent developments in this regard. It is hoped that integrated development work will improve the overall improvement of menstrual health management situation under the EU-funded development program entitled ‘Our Lives, Our Health, Our Futures’. The project could have solved the problem temporarily by distributing menstrual health supplies, but the project is working to bring about a sustainable change to the problem in a slightly different way. As part of this, the program has been designed about exchanging making skills for young women and adolescent girls in these marginalized areas to prepare healthier reusable sanitary pads then they will be able to manage their menstruation efficiently at home using available and low-cost materials. As a dream of intervention, the project implementation has already started. A one-day training of trainers program on making Re-usable sanitary pads of the project was recently held in Rangamati Hill District.

Participants sharing the `Menstruation Cycle’ as part of Session of Menstruation
A closing snapshot of Reusable Sanitary Pad Making Training


Originally, several officials were involved in the project implementation of this thought and action plan. But the one who has played a leading role in making this dream a reality is Rimi Chakma, Master Trainer of the Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha (BNPS), Rangamati Hill District. She has led the whole actions and process. Her sincerity, thoughtfulness, and the support of other project officials have temporarily set up a standardized model considering the real problems of hill tracts women and their menstrual health management. Which is currently being implemented and will be further modernized later based on their recommendations. As per the present outline, a training program has been conducted for the field level staff in the three hill districts. Subsequently, a skill development program is underway for the mentors in charge of girls’ club operation to create reusable sanitary pads separately in the three hill districts. As a result, about 12,000 young women and adolescent girls from 3 hill districts directly will directly benefit from it. 


Sometimes a single initiative in realizing a dream is never fruitful, but the successful realization of a dream is possible only through a concerted effort, but one is to lead, by whose hand a big dream will be successfully accomplished. In this way, the crisis of inappropriate health care and getting the right information around menstruation will improve.


About the writer: 

Sumit Banik is a public health activist with experience in different significant health programs and research initiatives as a public health worker in Bangladesh. He has completed his post-graduation degree in public health. Sumit is passionate about working for marginalized and unprivileged community people, developing their health outcomes through a sustainable approach. Currently, he’s working with Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha (BNPS) as a Master Trainer in the ‘Our Lives, Our Health, Our Futures’ Programme at Bandarban Hill District in Bangladesh. He has already published more than 200 articles on health, education, social development and degradation in the reputed online media and Bengali dailies besides his articles have been published in various publications of international and national development organizations. For further communication, you can reach him through e-mail:  [email protected]    


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