Dignity… Sews India Initiative for Women & Child health.
Under our program “Dignity” we are spreading awareness about menstruation health & hygiene in rural & urban area of Uttar Pradesh.
Women and girls have obviously been coping with menstruation for a long time without the aid of fantastic plastic convenience. They make do, using cloth rags or other methods like straw, leaves, newspapers, mud or ash, slipping out of the home at night time to bury used rags in the dirt or finding private places to wash and hang them out to dry. But just because women and girls cope doesn’t mean that menstrual hygiene management (MHM) is an issue that can be overlooked by those working in development. It’s important to recognize that this affects women and girls’ health, dignity and confidence, as well as their participation in education, the community and the economy.
Education for girls and the wider community on menstruation is crucial to address discrimination and exclusion, and to create an environment where women and girls can articulate their needs—particularly in contexts where there are significant taboos and restrictions, coupled with a lack of accurate information on sexual and reproductive health.
MHM is definitely not the only (nor the main) barrier to girls’ continuation in school past puberty. Giving schoolgirls menstrual hygiene supplies is no silver bullet to fix the gender gap in enrollment and attendance (it is debated whether it really has much of an impact on attendance at all). But MHM and appropriate toilet facilities do need to be considered as part of wider steps to make schools ‘girl friendly’ and more equitable.We are starting to hear more conversations and ideas on MHM and we are also improving our understanding of how it may relate to other development challenges.
Perhaps the best thing that development practitioners and policymakers can do is to keep asking the question “what do women and girls need?” when planning projects, making sure that menstruation is not left off the agenda—even if it can still be an awkward conversation for some.