Poor menstrual health and hygiene is a crisis that most people in India don’t even know exists. The culture of silence around menstruation in India is so complete that 71% of girls report having no knowledge of menstruation before their first period. For most, it is a terrifying experience compounded by taboos that often restrict them from sleeping in the same house, touching food, or even bathing during their period.
With this in mind for the 2015 Menstrual Hygiene Day, we developed a special poster series called ‘Break the Taboo’. The series of seven posters discussed common myths: Don’t attend religious ceremonies, Don’t cook, Don’t go to school, Don’t touch males, and Don’t eat certain types of food as well highlighted the need for menstrual hygiene awareness.
The posters targeted both the urban and rural audiences of the country. For the rural audience the myths were used as talking points on the need for menstrual hygiene management.
Posters: Break the Taboo: Menstrual Myths Debunked – View PDF
Startling facts like 70% of mothers consider menstruation ‘dirty’, 88% of menstruating women in India use home-grown alternatives like old fabric, rags, sand, ash, wood shavings, newspapers, dried leaves, hay, and plastic, 63 million adolescent girls live in homes without toilet facilities, girls are typically absent for 20% of the school year due to menstruation, which is the second major reason, after household work, for girls to miss school, and 70% increase in incidence of reproductive tract infections owing to poor menstrual hygiene were used as talking points for the young and urban audience.
The posters were used both on social media as well as in our project areas. They were adapted in four regional languages (Hindi, Telugu, Odia and Kannada) and released in events held across regions.