MENSTRUAL HYGIENE PROJECT
There are multiple social norms, unwritten rules and local practices around managing menstruation. Most of them are un-scientific and have harmful implications for women. Another serious issue is the non-attendance of school by the girl during their periods each month.
To tackle the taboo and promote better hygiene practices, DRISTI launched the Menstrual Hygiene Project at Panchauli, a small village near Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi. Under this project, two initiatives taken by the team were "Donate A Pad" Campaign and "Sanitary Napkin Distribution".
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The aim of MENSTRUAL HYGIENE PROJECT is to inculcate the values of women health, menstrual hygiene management and sanitation among the rural girls and women.
The project was started with the following objectives:
To enhance the knowledge of rural women about menstrual hygiene, good health & sanitation practices and to create awareness regarding the same.
To promote the status of female hygiene management by making hygiene products like sanitary napkins more accessible to women.
With a total of about 200 females in Panchauli, about 81% are in the menstruating age group. In surveys, it was found that 8 out of 10 women have inadequate information about menstruation. Such studies indicated that an immediate action was required to address the situation. We thus started a door to door campaign, reaching out to the women and girls to talk share with them the basics of menstruation.
Through various activities and act-plays, we highlighted the need of inculcating healthy hygiene practices, following a more balanced diet during their reproductive cycle and most importantly, opening up about menstruation and sanitation as subjects of sincere concern and awareness.
Through the "Donate a pad campaign", we collected sanitary napkins through donations. While the girls in our colleges donated the pads directly, interested boys contributed in the form of monetary donations. In our pad distribution drives, we provided each woman with sanitary pads free of cost to break the taboo around it. We also resolved any related issues they experienced or faced in the matter.
We received an overwhelming and encouraging response form the beneficiaries, which motivated us to keep working consistently on the project. Till date, we have conducted 5 pad distribution campaigns with an average of 300 pads distributed in each of the drives. The women in these villages now have begun to understand the need of using sanitary napkins, taking care of good hygiene, following a balanced diet and their right to lead a healthy reproductive life. We have been leading the project very closely with the 250 women of Panchauli and Hombai (a neighbouring village). We believe that societal changes like these cannot be brought about overnight and we are determined to consistently support the women in their journey.
REACHING OUT TO SCHOOL GIRLS
It has been evident that the best way to bring a change is to get along with the younger minds, who’ll be the upcoming generation and the future of the society. Hence, in the further stages of our project we initiated weekly sessions, targeting the 200 girl students in nearby government schools. We organized sessions and discussions on menstruation, sanitation, personal hygiene, good and bad touch, taboos, right to privacy and keeping up a healthy lifestyle in the growing age. Recently, we introduced them to Menstrupedia, a great comic magazine on menstruation. We also remain in constant touch with them through the school staff and administration. We take up regular feedbacks, and formulate our next session based on the curiosities or any discussions which the girls might wish to have.
With this project, we aim to carry on with spreading awareness and dissemination of knowledge regarding menstrual hygiene.
Since this distribution of sanitary napkins cannot be perpetual, we will be encouraging the women to use purchase and use the sanitary napkins. Through the educative sessions, we wish to continue imparting progressive knowledge and learning to female students. We are certain that our Menstrual Hygiene Project will have a lasting impact on the lives of our beneficiaries and help them lead a better life.