Till date, the topic of menstrual hygiene and sanitary pads is talked about in hushed tones in the majority of Indian households. It is a norm for the pharmacists to pack the sanitary napkins in a newspaper so that the women purchasing it avoid being judged. Unfortunately, there is always a sense of shame attached to buying and using sanitary napkins and Prime Minister Modi is looking to break the taboo and end the shame associated with menstrual hygiene.
Perhaps for the first time in the history of independent India, the country’s Prime Minister in his Independence Day speech from the Red Fort talked about the importance of menstrual hygiene as PM Modi aims to normalise the topic of menstrual hygiene and promote health and welfare of women.
Prime Minister Modi is his 90-minutes long speech touched upon a variety of themes woven together by the need for ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat,’ however, one of the main highlights of his speech was hearing him speaking from the ramparts of Red Fort about affordable sanitary pads. “This government has been persistently concerned about better healthcare for poor sisters and daughters. We have done a huge job in providing sanitary pads at one rupee each in Janaushadhi Kendra. In a short span of time, more than 5 crore sanitary pads have been delivered to these poor women from 6000 Janaushadhi Kendras,” said the Prime Minister.
It has happened for the first time that the nation’s Prime Minister has touched upon the issue of menstrual hygiene which is still considered as a social taboo in front of 1.3 billion Indians. Narendra Modi has set the precedence clear and straight that this issue has to get in the mainstream conversation and there should be no conservatism attached to it.
It is important to remember that Prime Minister Modi in his 2014 address, broke traditions as he talked about how open defecation still exists in India which is a national shame. Not only did the Prime Minister systematically put India on its path of being an open defecation free country but brought out an attitudinal shift as he normalised the topic of open defecation and toilets. PM Modi is aiming to do the same with the issue of menstrual hygiene.
Former Prime Minister’s like Manmohan Singh or Rajiv Gandhi or Jawaharlal Nehru who are often proclaimed as ‘liberal’ leaders, never raised this issue from the podium or worked efficiently on these fronts. PM Modi is yet again breaking the taboo. Meanwhile, the leftist feminists are busy trying to portray the BJP as misogynist and PM Modi as super orthodox. With his address, PM Modi has decided to put such zero-value adding career feminists out of business.
Being the head of the state, PM Modi has talked about the subject like the head of the family that is India. He has set an example that something which is normal; something which cannot be denied should not be wrapped in a paper while everyone knows about it already.
It’s high time to bring such topics in the mainstream conversation and PM Modi has definitely broken the glass ceiling by talking about this issue while standing in the parapets of Red Fort.