In a bid to promote Beauty with Purpose campaign, with a focus on female menstrual hygiene and health, for the first time Miss World Organisation, with two Miss Worlds (2017 and 2016) and six Miss World 2017 continental winners (America, Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania), visited India.

This was part of the epic humanitarian world tour that began in India together with India’s Aakar Innovations that has been working on a similar “freedom from shame” campaign.

With her presentation on menstrual hygiene management in India, Manushi Chillar not only won the crown but also decided to start off the humanitarian tour with her home country, India.

In an interaction with The Statesman, Manushi Chillar spoke about her association with this initiative, and the significance of menstrual hygiene. Excerpts:

Why do you think this is such a significant initiative?

I started this project as an aspiring health worker as I was studying medicine. Not only being a female or belonging to a family of doctors, I think being a citizen and human itself is important to take these kind of initiatives in life.

Apart from being an aspiring doctor, as a Miss World also this project has become my responsibility.

From when did you start advocating for this cause?

When I was 18 I started going around talking to people about it at my own level with the help of my parents. My domestic help was diagnosed with fibrous tissue in her ovaries due to an untreated infection that had aggravated over time, due to unhygienic menstrual hygiene practices.

I went to study in rural Haryana and found that it was not just the lack of awareness on menstrual hygiene but also the lack of availability of products that hampered safe hygiene practices.

Do you think the problem primarily lies in the rural area or it is there in urban setup too?

The problem is there all over, not just rural, but the causes are different. In urban areas it’s more of taboos and myths associated with it, and in rural areas it’s more of lack of access to education.

Do you think affordability is also one of the factors responsible?

Yes, in many places people still do not have generic pads available, and have to go for commercial pads. Affordability is, therefore, an issue in so many places.