Odisha FC: Scoring Goals, Empowering Women through Menstrual Hygiene

Odisha, a state well known for it’s cultural diversity, scrumptious food options, incredible tourist destinations, and unwavering support for various sports, holds a special place in Indian athletics. The state which is ranked first in terms of per capita income in the Eastern India was brought into limelight through various activities they have did for the holistic development of Indian Sports sector. Beyond hosting major sporting events with government backing, the state has established high-performance centers and grassroots programs to nurture talent from the ground up.

The state have also supported Indian Football in many ways and is continuing to do so. Odisha FC, the ISL club from the state, truly represents the community. When the Odisha FC women’s team was formed, it was another way for the club to represent the people, especially girls and ladies of Odisha. The women’s team was founded in 2022, and it was officially announced on the day of ‘Rath Yatra’ which is special to Odias. After securing the Odisha Women’s League championship in their debut season, the team qualified for the prestigious Indian Women’s League (IWL) 2023-24.

See also  Ambernath United Atlanta FC and Delhi FC Battle for Hero I-League Qualification

On January 6, 2024 the club announced through it’s official social media handles that for every goal they score in IWL, they pledged to donate 50 sanitary pads to schools, colleges, and slum areas. It is the club’s evident effort to give back to the community they belong and at the same time it provides awareness about the critical yet often neglected aspect of healthcare sector of society, which is menstrual hygiene.

The Reality of Period Poverty in India

Despite significant strides, menstrual hygiene remains a challenge for many Indian women. According to the National Family Health Survey 2019-21, only 64.5% of adolescent girls (aged 10-19) use sanitary napkins during their periods. A substantial portion continues to rely on unhygienic alternatives like cloth rags or makeshift solutions, particularly in rural areas where stigma and taboos surrounding menstruation are more prevalent. The survey further reveals a mere 0.3% usage rate of menstrual cups, highlighting a lack of awareness about sustainable menstrual hygiene options.

See also  Mumbai Knights Falls 4-2 to East Bengal in IWL

In this context, it is a noteworthy gesture from Odisha FC to provide clean menstrual hygiene product to the community, especially to adolescent girls. Proper menstrual hygiene and health is important for not just the girl who is menstruating but also for the society and it is important to create awareness amongst people to eliminate stigma and taboos. When a football club comes with such aspiring innovations, it will surely catch attention of many and help will reach the underdeveloped sector of the society as well.

Beyond Sanitary Pads: Exploring Sustainable Options

While sanitary pads are a crucial tool for menstrual hygiene, they are not the most sustainable solution. Menstrual cups, made from medical-grade silicone, offer a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative. These cups can last up to 10 years, making them a much more economical option compared to the ongoing expense of purchasing sanitary pads. Additionally, menstrual cups provide superior comfort and allow for longer wear time (8-10 hours), empowering women to participate freely in their daily activities. Incorporating menstrual cups alongside sanitary pads in their initiative could further enhance Odisha FC’s impact.

See also  AI-Powered Transformation: Thane City FC's Innovative Approach to Football in India

Odisha FC’s innovative initiative demonstrates the power of sport to address critical social issues. As they “score for menstrual hygiene,” they are not only celebrating goals but also advocating for the well-being and empowerment of women in India.