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Menstruating with dignity is a human right

Gender-inclusive sanitation brings dignity to women and girls

INTRODUCTION

#HappyPeriodsDay

#AbPataChalneDo

The Menstrual Health and Awareness Week, observed from February 3 to 6, is aimed at drawing attention to the silence which shrouds menstruation, spread awareness and address myths and taboos related to menstrual health and hygiene. 

February 5 is observed as the Menstrual Health and Awareness Day which marks the launch the Red Spot Campaign, focussing on raising awareness on the importance of understanding menstrual health and engaging men to shatter myths around menstrual hygiene and develop sensitivity to women’s WASH needs.

Week-long activities to mark this day were carried out by the community, facilitated by CFAR through various events involving adolescent girls, mothers, health workers and other stakeholders through deliberations, field-related activities, games, wall paintings and street plays.

Our partners include: ICDS, National Health Mission, Department of Women and Child, Slum Development Committees, School Management Committees, Adolescent Group Male Forums, Kishori Samuh, Mothers Committees, Self-Help Groups, Area Level Federations, Self-Regulatory Committees; Mahila Aarogya Samitis, ASHAs, ANMs, UPHC; Parivar Sewa Sansthan, Saath Charitable Trust and doctors.

We bring you glimpses of activities in Bhubaneswar, Delhi, Jaipur and Kolkata during this period.


February 3, 2021

Tapabana Basti, Ward 63, Bhubaneswar

Poster-making Competition

The posters made by adolescent girls depicted messages on menstrual awareness and safe disposal, addressing myths and taboos. Some of these messages were:

“Periods are a matter of pride, not shame. We all must come together to normalise it and eradicate all taboos.” – Sasmita Behera

Periods are a blessing, not a burden for us.” – Meghanjali Parida, 15 years

“Everyone must know that periods are normal and there need not be any restrictions on any physical activities. We should not feel ashamed to talk about them in front of our fathers or brothers.” – Pinki Palei, 14 years

“Sanitary pads are a safer option than cloth, but the pads must be disposed of safely either in dustbins by wrapping it in newspaper or by burning them.” – Manisha Samal, 14 years

The activity also included quiz on four pillars of menstruation, including scientific information, access to WASH services, availability of safe products and disposal.


February 3, 2021

ICDS, Nagtalai, Jaipur

Intergenerational dialogue on effective menstrual hygiene – time to talk; Snake and Ladder game, role-play on different responses to MHM

Men should support girls and women in practicing safe menstrual practices as brothers, husbands and fathers.  Suman Lata, Anganwadi worker

Discrimination between a boy and a girl in the house should stop. Raju Devi, Mothers’ Committee

I do not want my daughter to suffer like me during her periods due to lack of knowledge on safe menstrual practices. Kiran Devi, Mothers Committee

Even the elders of the family hesitate to talk to us on menstrual practices and menstrual health. -Chetna, Kishori Samooh


February 4, 2021

Tapabana Basti, Ward 63, Bhubaneswar


February 4, 2021 Jaipur

Upper Primary School, Transport Nagar, Jaipur

MHM session with boys

Girls feeling shy to talk about menstruation is due to a flaw in our upbringing. When the chapter on reproduction is taught in class, girls feel shy. It becomes our responsibility to embolden them to speak up. Savita Sharma, Teacher

I will help my sister get sanitary napkin and also help her in disposing of the waste in the dustbin so that she can follow healthy menstruation practices. Lucky Singh Chauhan, Class 8

I will share information on Menstrual Health Awareness with my younger sister and help her understand the importance of menstrual health hygiene. Neeraj Yadav, Class 9

Girls should not miss schools during their periods, and boys should help them in whichever way they can.” Ravi Kumar, Class 12


February 4, 2021 Jaipur
Sharda Shiksha Mandir, Amagadh, Jaipur
Role-play – Happy Periods Day – Ab Pata Chalne do/Hopscotch Game on MHM

 

Besides using a napkin, we should also ensure personal hygiene, including washing hands before and after using pads. Girls should be encouraged not to miss school but take periods in their stride.” Sarita Taylor, Pariwar Sewa Sansthan

Such campaigns in schools help students overcome their hesitation and actively participate and share their period concerns. Tara Chand Choudhary, Principal

These events bring positive changes in our behaviour and attitude. Now I am more aware about my menstrual health and I use sanitary napkins which I get from the pad bank. Choti Nakula

At home, my mother tells me not go out for any work during my periods, but my teacher says that we should not limit our activities during menstruation but be active, eat good food and do light exercise. Afreen, Class 10

We have been taught not to throw our menstrual waste on streets, causing inconvenience to others and damaging the environment. We should segregate the menstrual waste, wrap it in newspapers and then throw it in the dustbin. Megha Tontyat, Class 9


February 4, 2021 Jaipur
Janta Clinic, Jaipur
MHM quiz and discussion with health experts on myths and taboos on MHM, role-play on different responses to MHM.


February 5, 2021

Gadakana School, Bhubaneswar

Wall painting on MHM; meeting with health experts, adolescent girls and mothers, street play on MHM and meeting with health experts, debate and quiz

The Menstrual Awareness and Hygiene Day gave 30 students of Gadakana School in Ward 9, Bhubaneswar an opportunity to draw attention to and demand the integration of menstrual hygiene services in schools, anganwadi and health centres.

To highlight their trials and tribulations at school with very little or no access to menstrual services, institutional or peer support, the boundary wall of the school was painted with a powerful illustration depicting the distress girls and women suffer during periods while others do not play a supportive role. The evocative wall painting reached out to boys and the men in the community to sensitize them on the issue and seek their support.

The girls had very engaging discussions with frontline workers on the lack of awareness and sensitivity in the community and appealed to them to support them is dissemination of information on safe period management.


February 5, 2021

Janta Jeewan Camp, Okhla Phase II, New Delhi

Girls and women inaugurate Pad Bank; ICDS workers conduct sessions on sexual and reproductive health; Session on menstrual value chain adolescent trainers

Ms. Anita Ahlawat, CDPO, Okhla inaugurated the Sakhi Pad Bank at Janta Jeewan Camp to facilitate access to eco-friendly sanitary pads for girls and women in the ward.

The idea to set up the Pad Bank was led by 23 girls and women from 9 settlements who are designated as master trainers by the government. The salient aim is ensure access to safe menstrual absorbents for girls and women to manage their periods as well as reduce menstrual waste.
“We do not want to suffer the distress we faced during COVID-19 when no pads were available and we had to manage with cloth. This pad bank will help us get pads within the community,” said Jyoti Yadav.

“Adolescents will purchase pads from the Baba Saheb Sakhi Biodegradable Sanitary Napkin Unit in Janta Jeewan Camp and stock them in ICDS centres in their respective settlements,” added Vidya, who is a Swaccha Grahi and a master trainer on MHM.

Stakeholders present included Kirti Singh, Counsellor, District Legal Services Authority, South east; Dr Sudha Vohra, Disability Expert, Director ASTHA; Ms. Reema Singh, Secretary, ASTHA; Mr Vinay Stephen; Sadik Masih Medical Servants Society; Ms Vidya, Ms Jyoti, Ms Kamlesh, Ms Sapna, Ms Mukesh, Ms Pista, Ms Radha and Ms Seema from Baba Saheb Sakhi Biodegradable Sanitary Napkin Unit.


February 5, 2021

Tila No. 4, Jawahar Nagar and Transport Nagar, Jaipur

Wall painting, open letters, Nukkad Natak

Scores of women and adolescents from Tila No. 4, Jawahar Nagar, and Transport Nagar in Jaipur came together to launch the Red Spot Campaign focussed on creating awareness on the importance of understanding menstrual health and engaging men to break the myths and develop sensitivity towards the subject.

The entire event was best signified by Mx. Kanak, a transgender artist who through her wall painting depicted that menstruation was not a burden but a gift of nature which should be accepted with grace. Meanwhile, women and girls wrote open letters to men and boys, asking them to be as concerned about menstrual health and hygiene as them. They said that since health was a right of all women and girls, men needed to stand with them. Explaining this further, they said, “Periods are something that as fathers, brother and our trusted guardians you should also know about.”

Mx. Pushpa Mai, Founder, Nai Bhor, a transgender CBO, interacted with women and girls at the centre. She said, “It is important to strengthen advocacy on menstruation as a right of every woman and girls. Everyone from the family to the government must ensure that the issue in not shrouded in silence”.

Ms. Lalita, General Nursery Midwifery, Community Health Centre, added, “Women are very hesitant to talk about issues related to their reproductive health. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It is women and men together who together can break traditional gender norms associated with menstruation.”

Nirmala, a representative of the Mother’s Committee, Tila Number 3, said, “The time has come when everyone needs to say ‘Ab pata chalne do’ or recognize the importance of the issue.”

Jawahar Nagar, Jaipur