Dutee Chand: Every girl is a leader waiting to happen

New Delhi: Studies have shown that even today, 2.3 crore girls drop out of school at the onset of their periods and 71 per cent of adolescent girls in India remain unaware of menstruation till they get their first period. Adding to the challenges, the global pandemic has impacted 74 crore school girls, and could severely affect their return to school, according to UNESCO.

Professional athlete and a true leader in her field, Dutee Chand told IANSlife, “Imagine if you start talking about periods openly with your children and your family! You can play a change maker in society just by starting the conversation. In my hometown many young girls still do not know what periods are until they reach puberty and I have been trying to change that through my interactions with them. I believe period education is the key to empowering young girls and giving them the confidence to achieve their dreams. I encourage everyone to talk about periods openly and look at period education as an important inclusion in schools. Every single one of our girls is a leader waiting to happen!”

Bhumi Pednekar shares,”I wanted to be a doctor when I grow up. For me being a doctor was by far one of the most noble professions ever, giving me the opportunity to save lives. But, this is not my story. This is Rhea’s story and her dream which she could not fulfill once her period started. Because of the lack of education, knowledge and protection Rhea’s dreams were completely shattered and she is not alone. Every year 2.3 crore girls go through this. This is something that needs our support, join Whisper and UNESCO in #KeepGirlsInSchool. Every time you buy Whisper Ultra, Whisper and UNESCO will educate one girl on menstrual hygiene and will provide her with free menstrual products only because she deserves to be in school.”

While the Covid-19 pandemic affected people from all walks of life, it had an adverse impact on girls and women, further making it hard to achieve a social balance.

In order for us to recover from the ramifications of the pandemic, we need to amplify women’s voices to further align with human rights. Education is not just a pathway towards a job and a career, but a powerful tool which can create ripples of confidence, zeal and influence within society.

Says Eric Falt, Director and UNESCO Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka:”To achieve a sustainable and equal future, we can’t afford to have girls drop out of school, which unfortunately still is the reality for many young women when they hit puberty. This is not a woman’s issue — it needs to involve everyone in order to change attitudes and perceptions about menstruation. UNESCO is proud to partner with Whisper in a joint effort to #KeepGirlsInSchool. Investing in girls’ education is an investment for society as a whole.”

This year Whisper launched the second edition of its flagship #KeepGirlsInSchool campaign and partnered with UNESCO to shed light on the impact of 2.3 crore girls dropping out of school — leading to 2.3 crore unfulfilled dreams — due to lack of period education and protection.

With education, a woman can be more self-dependent and less dependent on her family or other support systems. This helps enhance her well-being by supporting not just her mental freedom but also financially. An educated girl child contributes to economic growth nationally, bringing up the country’s literacy level as well.

This Women’s Day, here’s to girls who strive to go to school despite strong barriers, and build an inclusive system one day at a time.

(IANS)

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