“The loud noise of the helicopter is making us deaf. The strong wind is enough to tear our fragile clothes but we are approaching it. We are struggling to get a sack of flour to feed our kids. Our houses are drowned, crops are damaged, and our fields have been ruined. We are assuming that we will also, as our friends, relatives, and villagers were drowned.”
The words are circulating on social media, which help the viewers in visualizing the physical as well as psychological conditions of climate refugees. They are experiencing the fear, the fear of being swept away by flood or by poverty. Humanitarian groups and organizations are seen as raising funds to provide possible help to flood victims. After stepping down from your house, you will encounter so many camps, with the vibrant slogan that serve Humanity. Then why have been women continuously excluded from the list of humans? In the camps, we see people vigorously donating clothes, shoes, quilts, and edibles, while enchanting religious sayings. But they forget to enlist feminine products, whether it is sanitary napkins or pregnancy emergency kits. And when they accidentally encounter these products, either they mock them or feel disgusted. This attitude towards women and their health is unbearable.
The Government of Pakistan estimates that around 33 million people across the country are affected, including an estimated 8.2 million women of reproductive age. It means that according to their menstruation cycle, they will need sanitary utensils for approximately eight days to not let their clothes bleed throughout the time. A Social Worker from Rajanpur, while urging for help asked for daily times.
“Please send anything for menstruating girls, they have nothing and they feel extremely humiliated walking or sitting in shelters with clothes covered in blood, food isn’t what they look for right now, please send as many sanitary products as possible.”
But more than a humiliation it is the basic right of women. United Nations since 2019 have been observing 28 May at Menstrual Hygiene Day, acknowledging Women’s needs. Till now many campaigns and drives have launched on the international level bring awareness among men as well. But in Pakistani , there is a cadre of men , who voluntarily or vehemently miss every opportunity they could have to acquire knowledge about sex education , social security , menstrual hygiene , which all are compiled up to fall into the category of women rights.
The ongoing devastating floods of 2022, could also have opportunity for them but they got trapped in their own dungeons of masculinity. And the taboos are getting flattened.
From Mahwari Injustice to Mahwari Justice
“A Woman’s menstruation cycle does not stop because one-third of the country is underwater
These words of Bushra Mahnoor, co-founder of Mahwari Justice sparked a debate on social media. Where the idea of providing pads to women refugees and victims, began to be synchronized with men’s shaving kits. Some people called it luxury and mocked it as the western agenda of infecting our society with feminist ideas. This is not what women deserve.
Following the heavy rainfall of this monsoon season, the north western and southern part of Pakistan began to experience flash floods . The disastrous flood till now has claimed 1100 human lives, damaged infrastructure and drowned crops. Sherry, The Minister of Climate, term at the Climate Catastrophe. The Prime Minter of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif announced that the Government will provide relief of 4 bn rupees to Baluchistan , the most effected province of Pakistan.
Fewer number of NGOs are also seen as working to bring some ease in victim’s lives. Prominent among them is Alkhidmat Foundation, which since the start of monsoon, had started its rescue operation. More overseas Pakistanis are contributing through finical aid. All these developments are creating a sense of positivity. It shows every individual who is being affected is important. But Does these steps really acknowledge women’s needs specially when they are in crisis. Does the whole system is equipped to cater their needs?
Due to Mahwari Justice, menstrual hygiene equipments have become reachable to the refugee women. But does the duty ends here. The Mahwari Jusitce Drive is doing a commendable able job and shackling the taboos. Due to their efforts, people in Pakistan are at least talking about, but still there is need of training. Women of those areas still mocked for calling pads as Kids dippers. The Mahwari Justice needs to be implemented. The new concepts of urban areas needs to be transported to those areas to make their lives easier. The indifference to their needs, will continuously put the humanity on crisis.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, estimates that almost 650,000 pregnant women in the flood-affected areas require maternal health services to ensure a safe pregnancy and childbirth. Up to 73,000 women expected to deliver next month will need skilled birth attendants, newborn care, and support. Collectively , 1300,000 live are in the dire need of medication. If we fail to address their needs then there would be another catastrophe of humanity.
Huma Ahmad is a research fellow