China's fight against the coronavirus epidemic has caused anger at the neglect of frontline workers who have had difficulty accessing menstrual products, struggling with poorly fitting equipment and having their heads shaved.
Reports that some medical workers have been given birth control pills to delay their periods have also sparked outrage.
On the occasion of International Women's Day in the World, women in China have opposed what they consider to be discriminatory measures as the government tries to contain the crisis that affects the lives of tens of millions of people in central Hubei province, the virus epicenter , has disturbed.
Shanghai-based Jiang Jinjing was concerned about how female medical workers deal with their periods after talking about not using the toilet to store their protective suits.
The 24-year-old asked about the problem on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform and received thousands of comments, including urgent anonymous appeals from women in Hubei.
"A lot of female medical workers sent messages saying that their periods really caused a lot of trouble," said Jiang, who started a fundraiser for sanitary products.
"I can't even eat or drink all day while wearing the isolation suit, let alone changing sanitary napkins," one said to her.
Their efforts have led individuals and businesses to send more than 600,000 sanitary napkins and period underwear that can be worn longer to the front.
China ordered expressways for emergency supplies to Hubei Province – but hygiene products were not initially considered necessary.
Some hospital officials refused the donations, Jiang said, because they "lacked awareness of the problem."
"The leaders are all male comrades," a nurse in Hubei's Shiite city told AFP asking to remain anonymous.
While the provincial leaders are mostly male, according to the official All-China Women’s Federation, women make up the majority of nurses and doctors on the front line.
Jiang also had to face trolling from online critics.
"Even human lives cannot be protected. Why should you take care of this problem in the crotch of your pants?" one wrote in response to her campaign.
But Jiang and her volunteers remain unaffected.
"We are very happy to be able to work a little for women's rights," she told AFP.
The portrayal of women fighting the virus has led to a rare wave of criticism in a country where online discussion is usually very limited.
A university hospital in Shanghai, which praised the "warriors" who made up 79 percent of its reinforcement team at Hubei, said it would donate 200 bottles of pills to postpone "the" unspeakable "special periods of female team members.
The hospital later defended itself and said the women took the medication voluntarily, but the hospital was hit by Weibo users who accused officials of depriving women of control of their bodies.
"To avoid the provision of sanitary napkins, you created this type of volunteering!" said one.
"Of course, they would rather take progesterone than dye their protective suits with blood."
Propaganda videos of female doctors whose heads were shaved – supposedly to improve hygiene – also backfired, and many doubted that the women, some of whom cried, had willingly participated.
"Stop using women's bodies as tools for propaganda," read a popular article that responded to the videos on a WeChat-based blog.
The essay was later removed from the platform for "illegal" content.
A social media release by state-owned broadcaster CCTV that nameless workers posing in oversized Hazmat suits were described as "cute" aroused similar anger.
Weibo users indicated that, given the poorly fitting suits, they were probably female workers.
"Bold good, being sweet does it when it comes to safety !!" wrote a user whose comments have been reposted more than 27,000 times.
The strength of the online debate shows that public awareness of gender equality has grown, said activist Feng Yuan, who co-founded a Beijing-based nonprofit that focuses on women.
But stereotypes and propaganda "erase" women by portraying them as "recipients of help or as long-suffering caregivers or as praised victims or self-sacrifices," she said.
"Instead of living people, this kind of propaganda inversely strengthens gender stereotypes."
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)