If there is one silver lining that the pandemic cloud has shown then it is the focus on all-round hygiene and wellness in the last two years. Established enterprise brands offered personal hygiene products even in the past. However, it is the area of feminine intimate hygiene and sexual wellness that remained eclipsed under taboos.
Mr Vikas Bagaria, Founder and CEO, Pee Safe says, “The mere act of a woman going to a neighbourhood grocery and asking for sanitary pads can still make people uncomfortable. This is especially the guy behind the counter who would hurriedly try to wrap the pads into a black plastic bag and hand it over to the female customer.”
“This is the level of social stigma we have carried forward even after more than 70 years of independence.But now the pandemic has brought about a change which is constantly gaining momentum and will be a permanent transformation of approach towards the hygiene needs of the women,” he adds.
Personal Hygiene During Pandemic
When the first wave of the pandemic hit India, there was a lot of emphasis on ‘washing hands’ and using ‘hand sanitizers.’ In fact, for a while, the concept of hygiene seemed to have become fixated on washing hands and disinfecting the surfaces, practices which are highly impactful and necessary, yet only one part of the larger picture. “However, as the pandemic impact persisted, continuous awareness drives initiated by personal wellness and hygiene brands have made a lot of impetus in another critical area: feminine hygiene and sexual wellness,” says Mr Vikas Bagaria.
Hygiene Needs Of Women
A woman is at the core of any average Indian household. However, their hygiene needs continued to be ignored until the pandemic brought about a holistic rethink of our approach to the subject. Sustainable, affordable and easily accessible menstrual hygiene and relief products gained a lot of attention in 2021, and India has made rapid progress towards regular adoption of the same.
Mr Vikas Bagaria says, “Since the pandemic is basically an infection, the awareness about hygiene measures has also brought Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) into public focus in 2021. Despite millions of women suffering from these infections, the intimate nature of these diseases and prevalent social taboos created a severe lack of information and guidance about how to prevent them. Similar has been the case with sexual hygiene awareness. In 2021, we saw a number of path-breaking hygiene brands venture into this humongous yet unaddressed need area. In the last 12 months, they have launched high-quality products such as Kegel balls, menstrual cups, female condoms, intimate washes, body massagers, biodegradable sanitary pads, period pain roll-ons etc.”
Need For Feminine Hygiene
Mr Vikas Bagaria says, “While the awareness has got an impetus due to the pandemic, this acknowledgment of the need for feminine hygiene and growth of the market is going to be a sustainable development. Today, we are witnessing a correction of gender imbalance in India, leading to a rise in female population.”
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Urbanization and educational opportunities for girls is making them increasingly aware and assertive of their needs around intimate hygiene and sexual wellness. Women are no longer just cooking food, but also becoming the bread-winners for households. This financial empowerment has also given them freedom. “The development of gender equality in hygiene and sexual wellness is only going to gather further momentum in the times to come,” says Mr Vikas Bagaria.