Miss Universe Organization, Plan India, DDB for good, and social entrepreneur Pad Man launch global coalition to advance menstrual equity

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Coalition to launch in India during Miss Universe 2021 – Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu’s homecoming tour with a goal to achieve menstrual equity for 5 million women and girls by 2025

India I 22 March, 2022: The Miss Universe Organization (MUO), reigning Miss Universe 2021 – Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu, social entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham aka Pad Man, social impact agency DDB For Good and humanitarian organization Plan India today announced a coalition and social impact alliance to create a platform for menstrual equity. Plan India will act as the on-ground NGO partner to help achieve the coalition’s goal of menstrual equity for 5 million women and girls by 2025 in the India pilot program. DDB For Good, DDB Mudra Group’s dedicated social impact agency, in partnership with Changing Our World, will use public mobilization and creative storytelling to raise funds for the platform. Both agencies are part of the Omnicom Group.

The endeavour will begin in India, where 62% young women and girls do not have access to safe menstrual care, with plans to take the initiative international in the coming years.  Nearly 500 million individuals worldwide are experiencing period poverty and the coalition’s multi-million dollar fundraising goal will be used to make measurable impact across several fronts: reducing the stigma and raising awareness, education, policy and access to sustainable resources and products for menstrual equity.

Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu secured the national title of LIVA Miss Diva Universe 2021 and went on to the international stage, to win Miss Universe 2021. Speaking about the coalition, Miss Universe 2021 – Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu said, “I am so proud to help launch this initiative. Because my mother is a gynaecologist, I have been aware of the menstrual inequity in my country for most of my life. Now I can help carry on her work by bringing awareness to this amazing coalition of individuals and organizations who are working together to end the stigma, educate the public, and provide access to necessary products.”

Padma Shri awardee Arunachalam Muruganantham, better known as Pad Man believes that “Gender equality can be achieved by bringing proper menstrual hygiene awareness among girls and women.” He will help the coalition set up affordable manufacturing units in geographies and communities most affected by period poverty, run by women and girls themselves.

Shally Mukherjee – Founder & Head, DDB For Good says, “At DDB For Good and Changing Our World we are truly honoured to be a part of this opportunity to create a global and at-scale impact. The issue of menstrual equity has been very close to our hearts for years, and it is reflected in some of the culture changing work that we have done in the past. Our belief is very simple – collaborations with a shared commitment is the only way to truly scale up efforts that bring a meaningful change.”

Mohammed Asif, Executive Director, Plan India said, “Menstrual equity remains a distant dream for at least 3 out of 5 girls and women in our country. Plan India has been working relentlessly for the past three decades in partnership with girls, women’s groups and other development actors to advance girls’ rights and gender equality. Period poverty is one of the primary reasons that holds back girls and women to achieve their full potential. We are thrilled to join hands with Miss Universe 2021 – Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu, Miss Universe Organisation, Pad Man, DBB For Good and Changing Our World, to create a national and global initiative to achieve menstrual equity for girls and women by 2030. We have yet another reason to act together and no time to lose.” 

Additional Key Statistics & Sources I Source Link: WIIS

  • Of the people who menstruate, at least 500 million experience period poverty every month.
  • In a study done by the Tamil Nadu Urban Sanitation Support Programme (TNUSSP) in two Tamil Nadu villages, 84% of girls reported that they experienced “fear, panic, and confusion” during their first menstruation because they were never taught what menstruation is or how to prepare for it.
  • In India, nearly 40% of students miss school during menstruation, and 1 in 5 drops out of school after their first menstruation cycle begins.
  • A survey conducted by US a menstrual product company showed that 1 in 5 girls in the United States reported having missed school because they did not have access to menstrual products
  • A report from Plan International showed that of the health professionals they surveyed across 30 different countries, 78% reported that there was “restricted access to [menstrual hygiene] products, through shortages or disrupted supply chains” as a result of the pandemic.
  • A study found that 71% of girls in India 5 report having no knowledge of menstruation before their first period.
  • Almost 88% of women and girls in India use homemade alternatives, such as an old cloth, rags, hay, sand, or ash.
  • Girls with special needs and disabilities disproportionately do not have access to the facilities and resources they need for proper menstrual hygiene.