Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu Encourages Youth to Educate Themselves On Menstrual Equity
The reigning Miss Universe spoke about the importance of menstrual equity and reproductive health during a forum sponsored by a sanitary napkin brand.
Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu arrived in Manila on Sunday, April 24 to grace the Miss Universe Philippines pageant at the Mall of Asia Arena on April 30. But before the finals, the Indian beauty queen took time to speak and educate women and the youth about the importance of menstrual equity and reproductive health.
Harnaaz Sandhu on speaking about menstrual equity
Speaking to college students and Miss Universe Philippines candidates at the forum sponsored by Modess on Tuesday, April 26, Harnaaz said she was happy to be in the Philippines and visit the country. She and Miss Universe Philippines 2021 Beatrice Luigi Gomez are good friends.
In her speech, she spoke about how being a Miss Universe was never her dream. But now that she’s given a platform, she plans to speak about the subject of menstrual equity and reproductive health. These topics are sensitive in India.
“We have the platform. But we don’t have the number of right individuals that we can share that is so important,” she said. “But now that we have, let me tell you something. Nothing should stop you mentally. So that you can keep your eye on the prize and stay focused on the path to achieving your goals. Keep your passion strong, be confident and stay courageous no matter how long it takes. If it’s meant to be yours, it will be yours.”
“And while we are here talking all about menstrual equity because we are all women, at the same time, I want to tell you the meaning of menstrual equity in the simplest way possible. It means to have affordable, accessible, and safe feminine products. And to educate young women about reproductive health. Isn’t that simple? But it’s difficult to make everyone understand and that is wrong.”
With the Miss Universe platform, Harnaaz Sandhu plans to speak more about the topic. Moreover, she wants to tell not only women but men that menstruation is a normal part of life.
“I am a woman who menstruates. And that happens to females since the beginning of time. I along with organizations like today, and all of you, you are an organization, too, will talk about this never-ending conversation towards menstrual equity.”
Harnaaz Sandhu to young women: We need to educate each other about our bodies
Harnaaz said it was important that women should learn to educate themselves about their bodies.
“Girls, we need to educate each other, especially the ones who have had their first period even before that. We need to be their sisters, their friends, everything possible that they call us,” she said.
The topic of menstrual equity and reproductive health is close to Harnaaz’s heart. Her mother is a gynecologist. And she has seen the work she has done in a country where menstruation is a taboo topic.
“My mom, a gynecologist, has been the woman of my life who taught me about women’s health issues. She helped me begin this journey by spreading the word regarding menstrual hygiene,” she said. “I have watched her in public all through my life how she has been working towards the women of India and breaking the patriarchy system within my community. And empowering them to give value to the women in my country to know their bodies and find help when needed when doors were not opened for them. This has encouraged me and ignited the fire within me to take on the task. To use the words to continue to talk globally and Miss Universe.”
According to the World Bank, there are around 500 million girls and women globally denied their right to manage their menstruation in a healthy and dignified way. This had led to exclusion in public life, educational and work barriers, and hindrance to sanitation and health.
Harnaaz Sandhu and Beatrice Luigi Gomez: Men should be part of the discussion, too
Harnaaz also said that parents should educate their sons in lending moral support to their sisters, mothers, and female relatives when they go through their menstruation.
“We need men to support us. We need everyone out there to support us and to educate women about the importance of sustainable pads,” she said.
Asked more about how men can contribute to the topic during the panel discussion, Harnaaz said, “Be part of the conversation. And show support for their wives, their mothers, their sisters, and their female friends.”
“That is the support we need. When we might feel uncomfortable talking about our period we need you to say it’s okay to menstruate. That’s all that we want.”
Bea for her part said that it’s very important that men should help. Because not all mothers may be educated on the topic.
“It’s very important that men attend these types of talks. Because not all women are guided by their mothers. It’s also very important that men educate themselves about menstruation because you could be helping your daughter.” she said.