I hope you are doing well. So far as your well-being is concerned, we can see from the media on a daily basis that you are okay. However, I am writing this letter to let you know about our own situation.
My name is Ganga Khadka. I am from Gulmi district. Every day I hear and read about your fresh programmes. The country will benefit if these programmes are actually implemented. So I wish you all the best for the success of your programmes.
You are a lucky prime minister. I hereby convey my respect to the great mother who gave birth to you. But do you know that before you were born your mother also used to have menstruation as a unique gift of nature?
Menstruation is a regular, natural process that happens in women. This process makes the birth of all great human beings possible. You are one such son.
The continuity of creation may not have been possible if we women did not have our periods. You are much more knowledgeable about this subject than me. But why do we have to take this very process as a physical suffering rather than as a unique gift of nature?
Even if you were to desire, you can never experience this unique natural gift. But you can perhaps at least feel and imagine it, can’t you?
Every generation that led the country came into being through the menstrual cycle of each and every mother they were born to. You became part of the constituent assembly only because you were born through that process in the first place. But how could you fail to raise the issue of this suffering borne by your mother in the constitution you wrote?
Is it because it is an issue merely related to women?
Prime Minister, have you ever directed your attention to how we, the girls living in rural areas, become sensitive during our menstrual cycle?
We, the daughters of Nepal, usually use either a piece of cloth or sanitary pad to cover the blood that flows during the period.
A great many in Nepal use cloth due to lack of education and poverty. Many women become diseased as they fail to maintain hygiene during the period. Why don’t you pay attention to it?
Do you have any statistics to reflect how many Nepalese colleges have women-friendly restrooms, even the ones that are supposedly renown? The state is being run out of the money that we pay as tax but schools and governments offices with restrooms that have no incinerators to dispose sanitary pads are being built as we speak. This happens because the government officials have absolutely no knowledge about incinerators to dispose sanitary napkins.
Now how can those toilets be female student-friendly? I have been active in the Safe Menstruation National Campaign in Gulmi district for the last four years. Under the campaign, we are building a school with safe environment for menstruating students but this cannot remain limited to Gulmi only.
Why does the government not implement such programmes as top priority? Is this not a discrimination against us? The school restrooms must be female-friendly, necessary for safe menstruation materials must be made available. The quality of education can be enhanced. Female students cannot be present in their classes for four days a month. There are no statistics to show what is its overall repercussions on the educational sector.
How can the female students concentrate on their studies under such conditions? How can our daughters lead healthy lives so long as they use dirty cloths? How many women are suffering from white substance discharge due to lack of public awareness and hygiene?
What is the money earned by their husbands working in the Gulf being spent on? Why do women buy paracetamol on the pretext of headache and return home instead of discussing the actual vaginal problems out of shame?
Prime minister, can women perform their regular duties once they are stricken by diseases?
This is a subject being hidden from the public domain. Menstruation is a different capability of the women. It does not happen at a fixed place or time. It fulfils its cycles no matter what time, place or circumstances.
Who monitors the quality of the sanitary pads being sold in the market? We should produce uniformly-priced sanitary pads and make them available in deep rural areas. We can register it as a services sector industry. Can we not produce quality sanitary pads in our own country?
Poor daughters use cheap and rich daughters use expensive products. Can the government do something to make this equal? Do we not have similar sufferings and health?
We do not have the capacity to buy expensive materials imported from other countries but at the same time, we do not want to contract chronic infections just because our life is full of wants. We want to produce the necessary items (locally) but is the government ready to provide its assistance in that regard?
Prime minister, we are hopeful that on the occasion of Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28, the government will make at least some form of announcement in order to make the menstrual cycle of women more secure because I have heard you repeatedly say that there is no need for a mass movement to gain things that are legitimate, that it will be fulfilled automatically.
Let there be an environment wherein Nepalese people celebrate the lives of their daughters through festivities instead of making a secret of the menstrual cycle. It is then that everyone will feel the existence of a women-friendly society.
Ganga Khadka, Gulmi
This is an unofficial translation by southasia.com.au of the original story that appeared on the digital version of Annapurna Post, a Nepalese-language daily published from Kathmandu. Original story published on May 22 – Editor