Pakistan is in the throes of devastating floods that have wreaked havoc across all four provinces. The scale of devastation has been estimated to be more than $10 billion. And yet with thousands of lives lost, and millions homeless, we are still debating on whether sending sanitary napkins to the flood-affected areas is a good idea or not. As per an estimate, 8.2 million women in flood-affected areas are of reproductive age. Menstruating women in disaster-hit areas require access to safe and clean menstruation hygiene products. We need to understand that periods don’t pause during floods or rains. It’s a natural process that keeps happening every month to every woman of age. There are women who are pregnant. There might be a few girls who will get their periods for the time. Due to the present conditions when there is no clean water, the use of cloth can be dangerous as well. There are reports that women have had to resort to using leaves in the flood-affected areas during their periods.
In times like these when every human matters, why does it happen that women are so conveniently put under the radar and a product that is a basic need for any woman of age, becomes a topic of debate in terms of whether it is a luxury or a necessity? When will people learn to accept that talking or educating about periods is not taboo? It’s about a woman’s hygiene and health. We all need to understand that men and women all need to be treated the same way, with dignity and equality. All of them need the same basic facilities.
It will take a lot of effort and manpower to provide the rehabilitation and relief needed for millions of people. It’s time we hit pause on always putting women under the radar and for once act with reason and responsibility towards them. We need to learn to empathise with the flood victims without gender discrimination.