Necessity of a Comprehensive Menstrual Hygiene Policy in India


The Supreme Court of India has given the government four weeks to create a menstrual hygiene policy that focuses on providing sanitary napkins and establishing a model for girls’ toilets in schools.

  • It addresses the long-overlooked issue of menstrual hygiene for a significant portion of India’s female population.


GS – 1 (Social Empowerment)

GS – 2 (Health, Issues Related to Women)


  • Many women in semi-urban and rural areas struggle to afford menstrual hygiene products.
  • A survey (NFHS-5) shows that 73% of rural women and 90% of urban women use sanitary protection.
  • Women with 12 or more years of schooling are more likely to use hygienic methods.
  • Menstruation is linked to school dropout rates due to stigma and limited access to sanitation.


NFSH-5, Right of Women to Menstrual Leave and Free Access to Menstrual Health Products Bill, anemia


Mains Question:

Discuss the challenges related to menstrual hygiene, focusing on education and the need for a complete approach. Provide practical strategies for the government to implement inclusive menstrual hygiene policies. (150 words)

Dimensions of the Article:

  • The Long Overdue Menstrual Hygiene Policy
  • Education as a Catalyst
  • Menstruation and School Dropout Rates
  • Policy Completion

The Long Overdue Menstrual Hygiene Policy:

  • Since India gained independence, there has been an absence of a focused policy on menstrual hygiene.
  • The creation of a menstrual hygiene policy is a pivotal step towards recognizing and prioritizing the health and well-being of a substantial portion of the female population.
  • Despite advancements and increasing urbanization, many women in semi-urban and rural areas still face challenges in affording menstrual hygiene products.
  • The National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) reveals that 73% of rural women and 90% of urban women use hygienic methods, indicating a significant gap in access.
  • The affordability issue needs urgent attention to ensure that menstrual hygiene is not a luxury but a basic right for all women, regardless of their geographical location.

Education as a Catalyst:

  • The NFHS-5 survey highlights the positive correlation between education and the use of hygienic methods during menstruation. Women with 12 or more years of schooling are over twice as likely to use such methods compared to those with no schooling.
  • This emphasizes the role of education in breaking taboos, fostering awareness, and promoting healthier menstrual practices. Integrating menstrual education into school curriculam and community programs can contribute to a broader societal shift in attitudes towards menstrual health.

Menstruation and School Dropout Rates:

  • The NFHS-5 data points to a concerning link between menstruation, school dropout rates, and inadequate sanitation facilities. Stigma and the lack of proper sanitation contribute to girls leaving school, compromising their education.
  • This dimension underscores the social and educational implications of menstrual hygiene. Addressing this issue requires not only a focus on providing sanitary products but also creating an environment where girls feel comfortable and supported during their menstrual cycles.

Policy Completion:

  • While the initiation of a menstrual hygiene policy is a crucial step, it represents only half the battle. The policy must extend beyond addressing product distribution to ensure affordability and accessibility.
  • Clean and safe toilets with proper water facilities are essential components of comprehensive menstrual hygiene. The policy should encompass the entire lifecycle of menstruation, addressing health and social aspects.
  • It requires a holistic approach that goes beyond a mere policy document and involves effective implementation strategies to make a meaningful impact on the ground.