1 out of 5 girls in India drop out of school due to lack of period education and products. Mothers are a girl’s first teacher, but reports say 7 out of 10 mothers do not fully understand the science of periods and find it ‘dirty or impure’. Whisper, over the last 30 years, have been driving menstrual education, distributing free pads, and debunking period related myths and taboos. They have educated and given pads to more than 10 crore girls and mothers in India.
To address menstrual education and hygiene management further, P&G Whisper and UNESCO India joined forces with Gender Equality and Integrated Holistic Health working groups of C20 India at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s Bengaluru campus with the support of Omnex to raise awareness, particularly among women, including young girls attending school. An event was organized introducing five teaching-learning modules developed by UNESCO India with Whisper, these modules are tools to drive menstrual health and hygiene management for educators, young adults, persons with disability, with focus on gender, and nutrition.
Titled “Spotlight Red,” the teaching-learning modules offer comprehensive resources and strategies for learners, educators, menstruators, and community leaders. Their purpose is to enhance understanding and skills related to menstruation management while fostering awareness about its societal impact. The modules aim to empower adolescents from diverse backgrounds, including girls with disabilities, by providing them with access to period and puberty education. Moreover, they seek to create a supportive environment through interventions at the school, state, and national levels, enabling these adolescents to continue their education.
P&G Whisper and UNESCO India also launched a National Survey and Gap Analysis report on Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management under the #KeepGirlsinSchool campaign. The report revealed that in poor urban areas, 50% of adolescent girls (aged 15 to 19) lack access to hygienic methods for managing their periods. More than 220 people attended the event, including girl students, teachers from various schools in Hyderabad, along with civil society organizations.
Distinguished guests attending the launch included Chief Guest Mrs. B. B. Cauvery, IAS, State Project Director, Samagra Shikshana Karnataka; Mrs. Rupali Ganguli, Indian Television, Actress; Dr. Akkai Padmashali, Transgender rights activist; Dr. Huma Masood, Senior Gender Specialist, UNESCO India; Ms. Kruti Desai, Communications Head, Whisper, Procter and Gamble India; Dr Manoj P., Dean, School of Business, Campus Director, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Bengaluru, Dr. Sriram Devanathan, Principal, School of Engineering, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Bengaluru
Actress Rupali Ganguly who was present to support the Whisper’s Keep Girls in School campaign said, “Today, 1 in 5 girls drop out of school due to a lack of menstruation education and products. Shockingly, 70% of girls are unaware of periods when they first experience them. Even mothers who are girl’s closest friends, teachers, lack knowledge about the science of periods. I take immense pride in collaborating with Whisper and UNESCO to unveil inclusive and exhaustive teaching modules. All of us can be changemakers and contribute in our own small ways to ensure that the daughters of this country can attend school and experience their first period without confusion or embarrassment. They should be able to live, play, and study with confidence and comfort. I am glad that I got the chance to spread awareness about menstrual hygiene and health and be the changemaker.”
Chief Guest Mrs. B. B. Cauvery, IAS, State Project Director, Samagra Shikshana Karnataka, said, “Menstrual health and hygiene management is a crucial topic that demands our attention. Cultural practices that ostracize women and perpetuate discrimination must be challenged. We need to empower girls, break barriers, and provide clean facilities in schools. Access to sanitary pads and clean water is essential. Let’s prioritize nutrition and address the societal factors that lead to school dropouts and child marriages. We must unite and include all children, including transgender and those with special needs. Collaboration with knowledge partners is vital, and we need to break the silence and remove the taboo surrounding menstruation. Acceptance and equality should be embraced by all. Together, we can create a society where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”
Dr. Huma Masood, Gender Specialist at UNESCO New Delhi Multisectoral Regional Office, stated, “Spotlight Red – A UNESCO and P&G Whisper initiative, #KeepGirlsinSchool, is a comprehensive approach to address the urgent need for menstrual health and hygiene management in schools. With 23 million girls dropping out annually due to lack of proper facilities and information, we combine education and advocacy to empower every learner and menstruator.”
During the event, UNESCO showcased a comprehensive survey and gap analysis report, accompanied by a series of short films that effectively portrayed different dimensions of Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management. These films shed light on the diverse experiences and perspectives related to this vital subject matter, spanning across seven states in India. To further break down barriers and eliminate stigma surrounding periods, an empowering “Pride of Period Anthem” was also presented, fostering a more promising and inclusive future for all individuals who menstruate.