Aliyah Sohail |
In late August, this year, Scotland became the first country to supply free sanitary products at schools, colleges and universities. This generous move was made in order to allow girls and women, who cannot afford sanitary protection, to attend school and ultimately banish “period poverty.
“In a country as rich as Scotland, it’s unacceptable that anyone should struggle to buy basic sanitary products,” Aileen Campbell, the communities secretary, said in an interview. She said the investment would provide “these essential products” to those who need them “in a sensitive and dignified way, which will make it easier for students to fully focus on their studies.”
The day our families accept our female biology as regular, is the day our leaders will feel required to play their role in its management.
The Scottish government announced a program costing 5.2 million pounds, or about $6.4 million, to supply 395,000 students with essential sanitary products every month, beginning in September. The decision has prompted politicians to urge other parts of the United Kingdom to also introduce similar programs.
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Pakistan seems nowhere near to be following these footsteps. In a country where cotton rolls, designed to absorb constant bleeding, are considered an item luxurious enough to be taxed, women cannot even deem to excuse themselves from school/work because menstruation is still a taboo.
Our 24.3 percent of population living below the poverty line assures us hundreds of thousands who use and reuse old rags as absorbents during menstruation. In fact, a research conducted by Real Medicine Foundation revealed that around 79% of Pakistani women do not manage their period hygienically. These unhygienic methods give rise to painful infections and diseases which eventually cost more in treatment than using basic pads and tampons.
The Scottish government announced a program costing 5.2 million pounds, or about $6.4 million, to supply 395,000 students with essential sanitary products every month, beginning in September.
Several programs, including WASH by UNICEF, have run campaigns to educate the Pakistani rural population on sanitation. Their reports state that people have been willing to invest in hygienic practices, however, finances paralyze them. This is where we need our government to carry the baton and move forward. We need accessible and affordable sanitary paraphernalia, along with tax sanctions to allow Pakistani daughters to continue their educational and social progress with dignity and equal opportunity.
Read more: Scotland Wants out of UK into Europe
It is high time, that Pakistan starts giving this natural phenomenon the acceptance it deserves. Every shopkeeper concealing blue ‘always’ packets with brown paper bags, every schoolgirl pretending to suffer from a day-long fever to skip school while crying in bed over crippling cramps and every mother forcing her bleeding daughter to wake up for sehri during Ramadan, only makes it hard for Pakistani women to prime their daily routines according to their comfort zone.
Privacy is not equivalent to deceptive disguise. As a woman, I hold my right to keep personal information to myself, however, no amount of cultural backwardness should force me to skew my conduct in order to fit in the asexual lifestyle. The day our families accept our female biology as regular, is the day our leaders will feel required to play their role in its management. Congratulations to Scotland on their amazing progress; we hope to learn from this!
The writer is a sub-editor at GVS. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.