Menstrual Hygiene Policy

Why in the news?

A draft menstrual policy was introduced by MOFWH.

What is a Mensural Hygiene Policy?


  • Recognize menstruation as a natural process for all.
  • Addresses historical neglect and its impact.
  • Emphasizes comprehensive investment.
  • Aligns with Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Prioritizes underserved populations.
  • Promotes awareness and challenges societal norms.

What is menstrual hygiene?


Menstrual hygiene refers to the practices and conditions that help maintain menstrual health and well-being. It includes using clean and safe menstrual products, washing and changing them regularly, having access to clean water and sanitation facilities, and managing menstrual pain and discomfort.

NFHS 5 Findings


  • Significant improvement in hygienic protection usage (78%).
  • 64% use sanitary napkins, 50% cloth, 15% local napkins.
  • Education (12+ years) linked to better hygiene practices.
  • Rural (73%) and urban (90%) usage varies.
  • Emphasizes targeted efforts for regions with lower access.



Menstruation is a natural, normal biological process experienced by adolescent girls and

women  starting from menarche to menopause; the total duration of these days of

menstruation adds up to  about seven years of their lives. On any given day, more than

800 million women between the ages  of 15 and 49 are menstruating around the world.


  1. Menstruation remains a taboo subject, shrouded in secrecy, suppressed by silence and shame. This leads to a lack of discourse and dialogue on the subject across all levels, individual, family and community.

A study in South Asia found that 33% of girls in school had never heard of menstruation prior to  experiencing menarche, and 98% of girls were unaware that menstrual blood came from the uterus.

The onset of puberty translates to limiting of mobility, isolation for many a girl or woman. Girls are  asked to stay away from religious spaces, kitchens, kept in isolation, not allowed to play outside, or even go to school.

  1. The onset of puberty translates to limiting of mobility, isolation for many a girl or woman. Girls are asked to stay away from religious spaces, kitchens, kept in isolation, not allowed to play outside, or even go to school.
  2. Only 12% of India’s 355 million menstruating women use sanitary napkins (SNs).
  3. Over 88% of women resort to shocking alternatives like unsanitized cloth, ashes and husk sand.
  4. Incidents of Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI) is 70% more common among these women. Inadequate menstrual protection makes adolescent girls (age group 12-18 years) miss 5 days of school in a month (50 days a year).
  5. Around 23% of these girls actually drop out of school after they started menstruating.
  6. The biggest barrier to using a sanitary napkin is affordability.
  7. Around 70% of women in India say their family can’t afford to buy them

  The rationale for the Policy

  • Menstrual health integral to well-being and quality of life.
  • Aims to promote health, well-being, and empowerment.
  • Ensures access to safe products, sanitation facilities, education.
  • Breaks barriers, eliminates stigma, fosters gender equality.

Vision, Goals, Objectives, and Target


  • Safe, healthy, and stigma-free menstruation for all.


  • Access to safe and dignified menstrual hygiene resources.
  • Improving quality of life and realizing full potential.


  1. Ensure access to safe, hygienic menstrual products and sanitation facilities.
  2. Create an enabling environment with accurate information and address myths and stigma.
  3. Establish a coordination mechanism among relevant stakeholders.
  4. Create a ‘menstrual friendly environment’ in various settings.
  5. Promote innovative practices and partnerships.
  6. Strengthen environmentally sustainable menstrual waste disposal.


  • Policy covers all who menstruate in various settings.
  • Includes adolescent girls, women, special needs populations, marginalized communities, and those with differential needs during emergencies.


Aligning with the SDG’s:

The Menstrual Hygiene Policy aligns with India’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in relation to

  • Goal 3 on good health and well-being.
  • Goal 4 on quality education.
  • Goal 5 on gender equality, and
  • Goal 6 on clean water and sanitation


 Factors Affecting Menstrual Hygiene Management in India

  1. Lack of awareness.
  2. Availability and affordability of appropriate to manage the menstrual flow.
  3. Lack of adequate facilities



  1. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare initiated the Menstrual Hygiene Scheme in 2011: which focussed on the distribution of low-cost sanitary napkins in communities through ASHAs.
  2. The Ministry of Jal Shakti included menstrual hygiene management in the Swachh Bharat Mission -Gramin initiatives in 2014.
  3. The Ministry of Education (MoE) launched the National Guidelines for Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in 2015 with action plans that provided a valuable blueprint for all the States to intensify work on the issue of menstrual hygiene management.
  4. Under SBM-Grameen budgetary allocations were provided for awareness generation on MHM, gender-responsive WASH facilities in schools, and safe disposal solutions in schools and rural communities.
  5. The Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) focussed on improving access to services, commodities, and support for the adolescent population. Sexual Reproductive Health is one of the six thematic areas of RKSK, support was provided for the procurement and distribution of sanitary napkins across
  6. The introduction of subsidized oxo-biodegradable pads under Jan Aushadi Suvidha Kendras has also been a major milestone for MHM.
  7. In the recent past (2021 -2022) under the Swachh Survekshan Grameen, MHM indicators were included in menstrual hygiene management awareness and menstrual waste management policy. Sanitary napkin vending machines and incinerators have also been promoted under Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan thereby gaining importance in schools.

Best Practices:


Way Forward :

  1. To ensure good menstrual hygiene management it is required that we educate not only the girls and women but the boys and men to ensure affordable menstrual products, a clean and safe space to change (toilet, soap and water) and dispose menstrual waste.
  2. This would require a sustained social and behavior change communication to implement the policies and programmes and health system that is sensitive and comfortable with addressing the issue



  • Menstrual leave policies are intended to help women manage menstrual symptoms such as pain, cramps, and fatigue, and to promote menstrual health and well-being.
  • These policies also recognize the social and cultural stigma surrounding menstruation and aim to reduce the stigma associated with it.

Where does India stand?

In recent years, there has been a growing conversation around menstrual leave policies in India. Some companies have taken the initiative to introduce such policies, acknowledging the challenges that menstruation can pose for women in the workplace.


Menstrual leave in India:

  • Limited adoption; only Bihar and Kerala have menstrual leave policies.
  • Bihar, 1992: Two days of paid menstrual leave monthly.
  • Kerala: Higher education department introduced menstrual and maternity leaves for university students; some schools also follow.
  • Private sector: In 2020, Zomato offered 10 days of paid period leave annually, and other companies like Swiggy and Byjus have followed suit

 Supreme Court’s Stand:

  • The Supreme Court of India dismissed a petition seeking menstrual leave for employees and students nationwide, stating that it is a policy issue.
  • The court also noted that menstrual pain leave could have various implications and could discourage employers from hiring female workers.

Timeline of the Attempts made in the Parliament

There have been attempts to introduce menstrual leave bills in Parliament, but they have not been successful so far.

  • In 2017, the Menstruation Benefits Bill was introduced.
  • In 2018, Women’s Sexual, Reproductive and Menstrual Rights Bill
  • Both bills aimed to ensure that women have access to menstrual health products and are entitled to menstrual leave. However, they were not passed.
  • In 2022,”Right of Women to Menstrual Leave and Free Access to Menstrual Health Products Bill.
  • It aimed to provide three days of paid leave for women and transwomen during their periods and extend the benefit to students.
  • The bill cites research that indicates that menstruation affects girls’ education, with approximately 40% of girls missing school during their periods, and nearly 65% saying it has an impact on their daily activities at school.
  • Overall, while some progress has been made in India towards menstrual leave policies, more efforts are needed to ensure that women have access to such leave and are not penalized for a natural bodily function.

 What about the other parts of the world?

  • While menstrual leave policies are not yet widely adopted globally, they are gaining more attention and recognition as an important policy that can support women’s health and well-being in the workplace and in education.
  • Several countries, including Spain, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Zambia, South Korea, and Vietnam, advocate for menstrual leave.

Spain recently became the first European nation to provide paid menstrual leave to workers, with a maximum of three menstrual leave days each month, which can be extended to five days.

Scroll to Top