UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | 3 June 2022

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What the article is about?

  • Talks about the disability and barriers to feminine hygiene and way ahead.

Syllabus: GS-I Society, GS-II Social Justice, Empowerment of vulnerable section

Disability and rights:

  • In the past decade, significant progress has been made in India by government and non-governmental actors with regard to menstrual health and hygiene management (MHHM).
    • Increased awareness about MHHM, enhanced access to female friendly/ gender appropriate sanitation facilities and availability of menstrual products, in particular sanitary pads, are some of the visible outcomes of this progress.
  • According to Census 2011, nearly 27 million persons (or 2.2% of the Indian population) are disabled.
  • The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 specifies that a person with disabilities has “long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which, in interaction with barriers, hinders [her]/his full and effective participation in society equally with others”.
    • The 2016 Act, while stipulating the rights and entitlements of persons with disability, recognised that women and children are particularly vulnerable, and that certain rights, such as reproductive rights, may be even more neglected or disregarded as compared to others.
  • In India, girls and women with disabilities from poor households and marginalised communities, bear a triple burden that exacerbates their vulnerabilities. 

Challenges:

  • Deeply embedded prejudices and misconceptions about the reproductive anatomy and abilities of persons with disability result in their being considered asexual, unsuitable for marriage, and incapable of having and raising children.
  • Access to sexual-reproductive health information & services are in turn compromised because of these social & physical barriers.
  • For a vast majority of women and girls and persons with gender diverse identities, menstruation is more than a mere physiological process due to preconceived notions about menstruators and menstrual blood being impure or dirty.
  • Economic and structural factors create additional hurdles to hygiene management, good health, and health-seeking behaviours. 

Way Ahead:

  • The United Nations Population Fund and WaterAid India are working together to understand the key challenges and constraints faced by persons with disability with regard to menstrual health and hygiene.
    • The aim is to identify simple and potentially scalable solutions based on insights from individuals and organisations working with persons with disability across the country.
  • Accessible and adapted Information, education and communication on menstrual health and hygiene for persons with disability based on their differential needs and capacities, and an enabling socio-cultural environment.
  • Appropriate and safe menstrual products and hygiene promotion. Fewer than two- thirds of girls and women with disabilities aged between 15 to 24 years use hygienic menstrual protection methods (National Family Health Survey 2019-20).
  • Responsive and inclusive water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities, including disposal solutions in different settings.
  • Caregivers, both from within the family and institutions are vital for disability focused interventions and must be included as both participants and partners.
  • Every menstruating person has the right to menstrual health, irrespective of their gender identity, ability, or socioeconomic status.



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