The Arka Initiative, is a grassroots organisation providing tangible and practical support on issues pertaining to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) in Sri Lanka, recently to mark World Menstrual Hygiene Day, launched a campaign titled ‘Unsanitary Tales’ as part of its movement to eradicate ‘period poverty’ to help girls and women across the country in Sri Lanka.
In Sri Lanka, the stigma and shame associated with menstruation prevent millions of its citizens from leading free, fulfilling, mentally and physically healthy lives. The taboo topic is never spoken about with most female hygiene brands eliminating the word ‘period’ in simple communications, the organisation said in a media release. To make a change, Publicis Groupe Sri Lanka using art as a communication tool created a campaign to speak of the very things people are too ashamed to speak about in collaboration with the Arka Initiative.
Commenting on the campaign, Dr. Rashmira Balasuriya, Head of Mentors, The Arka Initiative stated: “At The Arka Initiative, we strive every day to fight for menstruators in Sri Lanka to bleed with dignity – to be armed with accurate knowledge, to break down the stigmas and to ensure wide accessibility to hygienic sanitary products.”
Dr. Balasuriya further added: “The campaign (that was launched) was not only engaging but highlighted the need to address issues surrounding poor menstrual hygiene and period poverty and was shared widely on social media. By the traction gained via the campaign, we were able to further our work with other activists to persuade the government to reduce the taxation on imported sanitary products by 15 per cent – increasing access to sanitary products and hence improving menstrual hygiene.”
“Behind every ‘Unsanitary Tale’ lies a real problem that has never been questioned or addressed before. From hiding essential items in brown paper bags, to being unable to afford basic sanitary products the lack of education on the matter is evident to date. The series resides primarily online and will be extended on print as well as posters on ground,” the release said. To get rid of the taboos, shame, shock and stigma around menstrual health, the Arka Initiative works towards improving the lives of young girls and eradicating period poverty in Sri Lanka. Firstly, by producing the most affordable sanitary pad on the market at present, so that all women can menstruate with dignity. Secondly, by providing reusable sanitary napkins to underserved women across several districts in Sri Lanka.
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