When it comes to developing socially conscious technical innovations, Facebook clearly wants to lead the way. In 2014, Facebook released its safety check feature. The feature allows users located near a disaster to receive a notification, confirm if they are safe, and check on the conditions of friends. Facebook also has applications so that people can donate directly to charities. And the social platform is looking to harness its technology to bring low-cost Wi-Fi to rural and developing countries.
Now, a 20-year-old student from New Delhi's National Law University is asking Facebook to take its interface a step further and encourage public discussion of menstruation by introducing an optional status update feature that indicates if a user is on her period.
Arushi Dua described her suggestion in a powerful letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
"I want to highlight the situation here in India about how menstruation is taken to be a taboo," Dua wrote to Zuckerberg. "No one wants to acknowledge and address the fact that women menstruate and it is completely healthy and natural. Some see menstruating women as 'impure.' "
During menstruation, she says, women are banned from cooking or visiting temples. Some girls feel so shamed that they don't attend school during their periods.
Talking about menstruation more openly and making it more apparently a part of normal, everyday life is something that women around the world can benefit from. In many states in the U.S., women are still forced to pay a tampon tax for a basic necessity.
Dua hopes that incorporating "on my period" as an official status bar update option will allow the world to finally recognize that menstruation is natural and healthy.
"This feature will encourage a healthy space where women can be confident about their periods," she wrote to Zuckerberg. "Also, others who are reading the posts will develop a level of comfort and realize that it is indeed not a big deal. This will hopefully lead to a change in the mindset of people and eventually myths floating all around will settle down."
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