Miss World 2017 to focus on menstrual hygiene

manushiNewly crowned Miss World, 20-year-old Manushi Chhillar, is using her medical background to focus much-needed attention on an issue that is often regarded in Indian society as a subject that is taboo.

At a media interaction on Monday, Chhillar said, “There are very basic things about menstrual hygiene that people are unaware about. One year into medical college, during my project to create awareness about it, I realised that education alone wasn’t enough. We needed to give them a sustainable system women could follow to practise menstrual hygiene.”

In the year ahead, she will be travelling abroad to participate in ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ projects along with coparticipants at the Miss World pageant. “I am really excited that I will be visiting four continents this year and spreading awareness about menstrual hygiene. So, Bollywood is something that isn’t on my mind right now,” said Chhillar, adding that she would want to work with Aamir Khan in a movie though.

Various campaigns advocating lower taxes on sanitary napkins have the beauty queen’s support. “Menstruation is a natural process and sanitary pads are a necessity. They should be available at a low cost. The good thing about my project was making sanitary pads available at low cost and I would like to take it forward,” said Chhillar, who won the fbb Colors Femina Miss India in her journey to the Miss World title.

Another difference that she wishes to make is in her home state of Haryana. “Right after I won even the state and national contests, a lot of young women had queries about it. I am hoping this win will encourage them to take a step ahead… I have been lucky to have very supportive parents but if there is someone who doesn’t have support, they must still never give up. If you have the courage, you will make it through,” said Chhillar.
When quizzed about the ‘Padmavati’ controversy, she said, “We women have one thing in common. We don’t feel persecuted for who we are and face challenges head on. We feel it’s not a women-friendly society at times, but as individuals we set examples and make women confident.” Julia Morley, chairman and CEO of the Miss World Organisation who was present with Chhillar, said, “While India has waited for 17 years (to win the Miss World title), some countries have also waited for more than 60 years.” Priyanka Chopra was the previous winner from India in 2000.