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Menstruation and Climate Change

Ecofeminism is a school of thought that holds that there is a tie between women and the environment at large. The major intellectual critique of this ideology is that patriarchy and capitalism create environmental issues and the degradation of women. In a country like India, conversations about menstruation are often considered to be diabolical given the structuralized system of patriarchy, which has led to a surge in environmental issues due to the wrongful disposal of period products.

India is one of the most populous regions in the world. However, the current population has not risen proportionately to the level of development in the country. Waste management in India has been a constant source of concern, while menstrual hygiene and mechanisms are more of an understudied territory. Period product disposal systems are extremely important to ensure that the environment remains clean and to achieve all the sustainable development goals.


Pads, tampons, and other period products involve great amounts of plastics. While these are products catered for consumption like food, they are not legally required to list out the components used to make them. The components used to make period products are terrible for the environment simply because they are not degradable. Additionally, they employ harmful chemicals that have terrible impacts on the environment. These products are often single-use items in nature, which are often flushed down into sewage systems and watercourses, and they occupy landfills. Single-use products are also easily available compared to more sustainable products such as washcloths and period cups, which has led to more people preferring unsustainable products due to their affordability and ease of usage. Other than environmental impacts due to the harmful chemicals used in these products, they can also be extremely harmful to those involved directly with waste management.


Another major as to why menstrual pollution is a major issue in India is the lack of accessibility of sustainable menstrual products. Period poverty, lack of waste management mechanisms, and other factors can all have severe impacts on the grassroots levels of the environment. Sanitation issues, lack of clean water, and social stigma also increase the usage of unsustainable products. Although this topic is discussed infrequently, climate action must account for menstrual health and hygiene development for the overarching goals to be achieved.


The Indian Constitution provides for the right to life under Article 21, and the right to physical health, the right to reproductive health, and the right to the environment have all been recognized under the provision through judicial interpretation; there is no separate law calling out for the same. As a fundamental part of the right to life and menstrual and reproductive health of women, women must be allowed to safely dispose of the same with dignity and without fear in a way that does not affect the environment. To ensure good menstrual health for those menstruating in the country, it is important to work towards reducing the stigma surrounding both menstruation and related aspects, such as waste management. In a country like India, a strong approach that involves the local governmental bodies, schools, and the community in general is needed to address issues such as this in order to alleviate the same. The usage of more sustainable products should be campaigned for consistently to ensure a healthier society and planet.


Bibliography

1. Bildhauer, B., & Owen, L. (2022). Menstrual Stigma Rearticulated as Environmental Pollution in Contemporary Scottish Policy-Making. Women’s Reproductive Health, 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/23293691.2022.2097034

2. Buckingham, S. (2015). Ecofeminism - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. Www.sciencedirect.com. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/ecofeminism

3. Mahon, T., & Fernandes, M. (2010). Menstrual hygiene in South Asia: a neglected issue for WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) programmes. Gender & Development, 18(1), 99–113. https://doi.org/10.1080/13552071003600083

4. Parnian Khorsand, Dada, S., Jung, L., Law, S., Patil, P., Marie-Claire Wangari, Omnia El Omrani, & Kim van Daalen. (2023). A planetary health perspective on menstruation: menstrual equity and climate action. 7(5), e347–e349. https://doi.org/10.1016/s2542-5196(23)00081-5

5. Pednekar, S., Some, S., Rivankar, K., & Thakore, R. (2022). Enabling factors for sustainable menstrual hygiene management practices: a rapid review. Discover Sustainability, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.1007/s43621-022-00097-4

6. Somers, M. J., Alfaro, J. F., & Lewis, G. M. (2021). Feasibility of superabsorbent polymer recycling and reuse in disposable absorbent hygiene products. Journal of Cleaner Production, 127686. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.127686



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