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Challenges of Women’s Hygiene in Flood Affected Areas in Pakistan

The submergence of one-third of a nation does not halt a woman’s menstrual cycle. The devastating floods in Pakistan believed to have affected 33 million people, have also brought to light the dangerous situation that women are in within that nation’s society. Considering that there are at least 8 million women of reproductive age in Pakistan, sanitary napkins are progressively being included in the list of essentials distributed by districts.

In Pakistan, period poverty affects millions of women, girls, and menstruating people, and there is a widespread lack of education on reproductive health and the need to maintain menstrual hygiene. The recent floods that have wreaked havoc throughout half the country haven’t made the situation any better.

Obstacles have been created as a result of ignorance and the social stigma that is associated with the issue of menstruation; however, the two women who are behind Mahwari Justice, along with a large number of other non-governmental organizations, are working very hard to ensure that people who have been affected by the floods will have access to period products.

According to Mahnoor, the founder of Mahwari Justice, many people consider period objects to be a “luxury” rather than a need. She explains this perception. When non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private benefactors (philanthropists) sought contributions of sanitary pads in addition to food, clothing, and medicine for people hit by the floods, users of social media resorted to making light of the seriousness of the issue. Some individuals even went so far as to assert that the aid operations were “working on an agenda.”

In response to the increasing number of local and foreign donations, the government has increased the number of relief activities to support the victims. In addition, the nation is providing relief supplies, including food and clothing, to the victims via a wide array of government and non-government organizations already operating on the ground.

It does not appear to be a priority to assist women and other people who menstruate in managing their periods in a manner that is both safe and dignified, even though there is a significant lack of understanding regarding how different genders are affected by natural disasters.

While many organizations working on the ground argue that assuming rural women do not know what a sanitary pad is, is an elitist assumption, other voices argue that women’s understanding of the problem varies from region to region. This is because women’s understanding of the problem differs depending on where they live.

Even under the most severe of circumstances, it was agreed upon by all parties that it is of the highest significance to protect women’s autonomy, irrespective of the approach taken.

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