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Shattering the Shackles

“In an era of fake news, and the filter bubble, Gen Z is more likely to be able to push through the noise… Not only are they able to consume more information than any group before, but they have also become accustomed to cutting through it. They are perhaps the most critical, bullshit- repellent, questioning group around and will call out anything and everything that isn’t right”, said Lucie Green.

Today we talk about the role of youth in the menstrual movement. In this write-up, I’ll mostly talk about the Gen Z’s contributions, involvements, etc. However, it’s not contemptuous of other age groups like the Millenials and people of other ages whose work in this field can’t be dismissed just because the article addresses a certain group because they (post-millennials/ Gen Z) would run the world in the imminent future. I acknowledge their deeds and am not dismissive about it.

According to a research by the Pew Research Center, which identifies 1997 as the year generation, Z begins from, owing to “different formative experiences or the events” that shaped the values and ideals of the people within Gen Z stand for.

The popular yet significant civil/personal liberty movements in the West paved the way for this development in their indigenous youth which eventually helped sensitize the Indian youth. This phenomenon was mainly aided by the popularization of the Internet and the social media platforms. In 2020, Gen Z accounts for 32% of the total world population which makes them the most influential ones amongst all.

While several Menstrual movements sprouted all over the world after this rapid virtual juxtaposing of the entire world population, menstruation is still considered as a taboo in Indian society. Even today, the cultural and social influences on people create a major hindrance in ensuring that the adolescent girls are given apt education for the same; forget about them acknowledging the fact that there are other genders who menstruate too. (Fun fact: I didn’t know about it too until I got my first periods).

The main reasons why this taboo still has its relevance in the Indian society are the high rate of illiteracy especially in girls, poverty, and lack of awareness about menstrual health and hygiene. Only less than 18 percent of Indian women use sanitary pads. On a global level, at least 500 million women and girls lack adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management.  Lack of adequate information on sanitation and hygiene facilities, particularly in public places like schools, workplaces, or health centers can pose a major obstacle to women and girls. However, The latest National Family and Health Survey found that 58 percent of young Indian women (15-24 years) use a hygienic method of protection (mostly sanitary pads), a significant increase from the 12 percent using pads in 2010.

This is, no doubt, a consequence of greater attention to menstrual hygiene management over the past few years in India. Considering that Gen Z is born in such changing times, they are more likely to support these progressive causes as they are the most educated generation. They are more opinionated, accepting, are less self-centered as they prioritize collective actions and are less likely to discriminate on these baseless and stigmatized grounds. They are here to shatter the shackles with calculated and educated logic and question the status quo by sparking the conversations which the preceding generations were hesitant of. They have used their abilities to the fullest and have succeeded in bringing the like minds together to multiply the magnitude of the impacts caused by their efforts. They have started nationwide campaigns to make people aware of menstrual health and hygiene and provide information to dispel myths and taboos surrounding this issue. They intend to powerfully express the problem menstruators face in their daily lives and urge their audience to become more sensitive towards the underprivileged and their traumatic circumstances. They aim for a holistic sensitization, through integrated awareness and motivation programs. Gen Z intends to provide them with know-how on how to handle menstruation, improve knowledge of personal hygiene, and boost confidence by answering unanswered questions through interactive and engaging training methods. We’ve seen many organizations founded by teenagers who work for these issues and RutuChakra, itself is one.

The strength of Indian Youth isn’t mere numbers but its ability to understand the societal evils and comprehending the fact that these can’t be combated by words and numbers alone but by solid/practical actions at the grass-root level.

Written by Devanshi Pandey

Graphics by Anashwara Mandalay

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