Identifying Socio-economic Barriers to Hygienic Menstrual Absorbent Use among Unmarried Girls in the Impoverished States of India

Jayakant Singh, Enu Anand


Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) among the adolescent and young women is a serious public health problem. This paper examines the socio-economic inequalities contributing to the use of hygienic menstrual absorbent during menstruation among unmarried young women in India and the Empowered Action Group (EAG) states. District Level Household and Facility Survey (2008) India, a nationally representative community based data, were used. Concentration indices were computed to assess inequality in the use of hygienic menstrual absorbent and further it was decomposed to identify the per cent contribution. Unavailability of toilets at the households (42%), living in the rural area (20%) and the number of years of schooling (27%) contributed about 90 per cent of the total socio-economic inequalities in using hygienic menstrual absorbent at all India level and in the EAG states with the exception of Assam where low economic status and residence in rural area explained the inequality. Recognizing MHM as a public health concern is the first step towards addressing the problem. The provision for subsidized sanitary napkins supply needs to be supplemented with the basic public health measures such as water supply and toilet facility at the household level, particularly in the resource scarce settings.

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