Pakistan, along with the world, recently observed Menstrual Hygiene Day 2017. In Pakistan; this day generally passed in silence except for some IGO events. Discussion of menstrual health remains a taboo subject in eastern as well as some western cultures.Pakistan has retained its position as the second worst performing country for gender equality. It came at 143rd place at the global gender gap index of the World Economic Forum (WEF). In this scenario, it is even more important to remove the stigma of menstruation for women at educational institutes, work places and more importantly at home. Menstruation may be one of the few constant natural events that have remained a taboo since ancient times. We do not know how women dealt with their monthly bloods before medieval times.Gaius Plinius Secundus, better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher who shed light on worldly understanding of menstrual blood. “Contact with (menstrual blood) turns new wine sour, crops touched by it become barren, grafts die, seed in gardens are dried up, the fruit of trees fall off, the edge of steel and the gleam of ivory are dulled, hives of bees die, even bronze and iron are at once seized by rust, and a horrible smell fills the air; to taste it drives dogs mad and infects their bites with an incurable poison.”Unfortunately, most ancient myths about a woman’s monthly blood transgressed into today’s contemporary world. Pakistani myths include: women are not allowed to take a bath, they should not cook or touch sour food, should not drink cold drinks and should not exercise.In Pakistan, the common attitudes towards menstrual blood are embroiled in a mixture of disgust, horror and denial. These myths and attitudes convert a normal bodily function into a distressing and hurtful experience for young girls and women.It is considered easier for a girl to buy any non-prescription drug from a medical store than to buy a sanitary napkin; where sanitary napkins are crowded into an unnoticeable corner along with a brown bag that a woman needs to discreetly fill with the sanitary pads under prying eyes of male customers and shop keepers.The menstrual taboo is hardly diminished in Pakistani media channels. Pakistan’s media recently joined the sanitary napkins bandwagon showing colourful sanitary napkins. Media also plays its role in the misconception regarding menstruation through advertisements showing efficacy of sanitary pads while depicting blood as blue liquid instead of red.As if somehow showing blood in its true colours will reduce the magnitude of the sin of menstruation. Moreover, marketing gimmicks depict menstruation as a distressful and painful time which can only be alleviated through usage of branded products which are again vaguely named so as to leave no clue to the purpose of the product to layman gents. Thus, saving the virtue of all TV watchers.Most education geared towards menstrual health comes from mothers but usually after the first blood has dawned into a daughter’s life. Before that, most households avoid discussing menstrual health pretending that periods do not exist. Some posh schools have started imparting menstrual health education but they are frowned upon and do not cater to most of the over 42 million girls in Pakistan who are in the age bracket of 10 to 19.In Pakistan, common attitudes towards menstrual blood are embroiled in a mixture of disgust, horror and denial. These myths and attitudes convert a normal bodily function into a distressing and hurtful experience for young girls and womenEven where sanitary napkins are available at an approximate cost of Rs 200, only 20 percent of girls and that too, who are situated in urban areas have access to them. Consequently, most of the girls resort to using clothes and rags for their reproductive health.A UNICEF research has shown that menstrual health also affect girls’ education in Pakistan. Many girls are not able to continue education or are pulled out of schools due to reasons like non availability of information, absence of washrooms and menstrual supplies, perception of her being of marriageable age, ridicule by boys and poor school performance.Although, international organizations like UNICEF are improving water and sanitation hygiene through implementing menstrual health programs, a lot more needs to be done. Efforts need to be made to remove the stigmatisation of menstruation which is inherent to our society’s culture.Speaking up about the issue more frequently is one of the first steps in this direction. It should be augmented by introduction of menstrual health awareness campaigns, government sponsored low priced menstrual supplies in schools, universities and workplace. This should be augmented by household and school level awareness of parents and teachers regarding menstrual heath as well as its impact on the future life of a girl.A pattern of polio eradication campaigning can be followed in order to generate awareness and to normalise monthly bloods as an acceptable body function. Men need to be equally educated since they have played a major part in making menstruation a taboo subject over the ages. We need to end hesitation around menstrual health and we need to start now. The writer is a policy practitioner, an Oxford public policy alumnus and Oxford Global leadership initiative fellow Published in Daily Times, July 31st , 2017.