Menstrual Hygiene Day & LSF
May 28 is Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day), which “aims to break persisting taboos around menstruation, raise awareness about the importance of menstrual hygiene management (MHM) for women and girls, and engage decision-makers in raising the political priority of MHM”. Globally more than half of women are of reproductive age, yet many lack access to hygiene products and adequate sanitation facilities and this prevents girls from obtaining an education, working, etc. As defined by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, MHM means that women and adolescent girls are using a clean material to collect blood, they have privacy to change their materials, they have soap and water for washing the body, and they have access to safe and convenient facilities for disposing of menstrual waste.
In Nepal, menstruation is often considered taboo and some girls aren’t allowed to go to school while on their period. This translates into up to 2 months of missed school per year for some girls! This is a major roadblock to educating and empowering girls in Nepal.
Teaching our Little Sisters and their families about menstruation so it is viewed as a normal part of life, and no longer taboo, is one part of the solution. Another part of the solution is providing girls with reusable sanitary pads. In 2018, we created a formal Menstrual Health Management program, through which we break the taboo surrounding menstruation and teach the Little Sisters that menstruating is a normal and healthy part of life. Our Coordinating Mentors are also a big support to the Little Sisters, as they help to guide and inspire them to be stronger in the face of social taboos, as well as help with these health programs.
As a team, we also worked to find the right reusable solution for sanitary supplies—it has to be something the girls want to use! Our staff and Mentors often put together kits sourced from Days for Girls and more recently through partner organization, One Dollar for Life. They include reusable pads, Ziploc bags, a drawstring carry bag, moisture barrier shields, pairs of panties, a washcloth and a bar of soap. These kits can help the girls feel more confident and prepared as it removes obstacles from going to school while on their menstrual cycle.
This is only one part of our health program, but it is an important one that has a big impact. We hope to inspire other schools in Nepal to use the same types of programs so that girls everywhere will have one less obstacle in getting the education they need. Courageous girls fight daily for freedom, education, and respect. To see how you can support their fight and contribute to their programs, see more here.