Menstruation Matters: Access to sanitary napkins

Women in the garment industry miss up to 6 working days per month because of their menstruation, according to Edward Prokash Bala, Head of Research of Square Pharmaceuticals. Bala spoke at the Share-Net Bangladesh meeting observing Menstrual Hygiene Management Day 2016.

Menstruation Matters. To everyone, everywhere. This is the theme of MHM Day 2016. Share-Net Bangladesh organized the event to discuss accessibility of sanitary napkins in Bangladesh, and invited Square to speak at the event.

Square has seen an increase in sales of the Senora sanitary napkin of 50%, according to Bala. The increase in sales of sanitary napkins is fueled by the Senora TV advertisement. The advertisement is well known for its perspective: a father buys sanitary napkins for his daughter.

Bala: “Men and women now talk about menstrual hygiene. Still, training on menstrual management is a basic need. Limited access to affordable and hygienic sanitary material and options for disposal leave many women to manage their periods in an ineffective, uncomfortable and unhygienic way.”

It is very common that working places do not have proper washrooms, there is a lack of sanitary napkins, and women are being bullied by male colleagues because of their periods.

Square, as a private sector company, not only sells sanitary napkins but is also involved in raising awareness on menstrual hygiene and sexual and reproductive health. Square claims to have reached 3.5 million school girls and made them aware of menstrual hygiene, and in addition offers 24/7 support through a helpline with free advice: 09612222333, mainly to assist girls through their first menstruation.

The Share-Net Bangladesh team made a phone call to find out about the information provided to girls having their first period. The message was clear and delivered in six minutes: menstruation is normal and nothing to worry about, followed by extensive advice on food, on changing the sanitary napkins every 4 to 5 hours, and on pain relief with hot water bottles as well as the tip to mark the menstruation days on a calendar.

Square Pharmaceuticals and SNV, a Netherlands based NGO, work together to promote menstrual hygiene among women. SNV and Square initiated the project ‘Go Bangladesh’, focusing on women in the garment industry. Women receive 3 free sanitary napkins every month; in return, they provide their feedback on the use and quality of the napkins.  “Over 3,000 workers have received information on SRHR. Improving the health and social life of the employees will increase the productivity”.

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