This is a real-life experience that comes from my personal desk.
I wonder how Neha, Kaluti’s granddaughter is managing her period supplies at the moment. Periods don't stop for pandemics. In times of disasters, let alone pandemics, it’s easy to overlook basic essentials for people around dignity.
While growing up, we had a washer woman called Kaluti. She would tag along her granddaughter Neha to our house every few days. Her eyes always had a request for help. I wasn’t sure what kind of help would have been valuable for her but once I gave her the last remaining pad from the pack of my sanitary pads. I guess I was showing off my affluence to afford pads. She started visiting us more often. I started liking her and helping her with my pre used clothes, and half used toiletries and soon it became our ritual. Slowly it was understood between us that her supplies for the month will come from me. After some years she stopped asking me for pads because there was a charity organization that started giving them some free pads every month.
If it wasn’t those pads that she received as charity at that time, she would have certainly missed her school and even her work on many occasions. Why I am sharing this story is because it just hit me hard today in the morning when I read how daily wages workers and people with smaller income are affected by COVID- 19. For many people around the world today, their daily supplies and groceries are charity dependent. I am wondering if Neha is able to afford sanitary pads today for herself or if she is still dependent on someone to give her.
Social distancing is helping to stop the spread of the virus but social distancing is also stopping many organization to be able to help girls in need
With schools shut down in more than 85 countries and companies telecommuting around the globe, people who rely on getting free period products at work or in schools are at an even bigger disadvantage. Stigma already stops girls/women who menstruate around the world from asking for period products. As more communities practice social distancing, it will be even more difficult to provide pads and tampons to the most vulnerable people. When girls/women who menstruate do not have the education or resources to manage their periods safely, they often resort to using unsafe materials like rags and clothing which can cause physical health risks. I cannot imagine in my wildest dreams that Neha has resorted to rags/ashes/or newspaper for menstrual management. Neha always remained in my mind that there are girls around the world who need period care help and they are around us. Maybe you also have one in your own neighborhood and I am sure you would have wanted to help them.