Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management for Persons with Disability

Posted by
WaterAid India
Girls and women, Health
A young girl holding a doll used during MHM training
Image: WaterAid / Shruti Shrestha

Persons with disabilities (PwD) constitute 2.2% of the total Indian population, corresponding to 26.8 million people (Registrar General of India, 2011). The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016 specifies that a person with disabilities has “long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which, in interaction with barriers, hinders his full and effective participation in society equally with others” (Government of India, 2016). Among PwDs, girls and women with impairments are particularly stigmatized, facing the double burden of being female and having a disability. Their rights, dignity and autonomy are often disregarded and violated. While efforts are ongoing to facilitate inclusive education and employment, the health and reproductive rights of PwDs are starkly neglected. Menstruation, a basic physiological aspect of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), is deeply affected for girls and women with disabilities.

Given the increased attention to and investment in menstrual health and hygiene globally and in India, the limited discourse around the intersection of menstruation and disability is striking and needs attention and action. Attempting to fill these lacunae Executive Summary to the extent possible, this white paper outlines the key challenges and constraints faced by PwDs with regard to menstrual health and hygiene, and presents simple and potentially scalable solutions. The paper draws on the experiences and solutions shared by individuals and organizations working closely with persons with varied disabilities across India.