Issues associated with menstruation are never discussed openly and the silence surrounding menstruation burdens young girls by keeping them ignorant of this biological function. Even after the attainment of menarche, very little information is given to young girls about the physiological processes involved and the hygienic practices to be followed.
Most girls have their first period, known as menarche between the age of 11 and 14, during a time when they are living through one of the most rapid phase of their physical development. Unfortunately, the taboo surrounding menstruation in society prevents girls and women from articulating their needs and the problems of poor menstrual hygiene management have been ignored or misunderstood. There is lack of information on the process of menstruation, the physical and psychological changes associated with puberty and proper requirements for managing menstruation.
This easy to read booklet in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) form has been prepared to support girls and women in providing basic factual information about menstruation and hygienic menstruation management and will clarify some of the myths and taboos centered around this issue. The booklet will serve as a self reference for adolescent girls and will help them to be better prepared to cope with the physical changes in their bodies and practice safe and hygienic ways of dealing with menstruation.
The booklet, which will be translated into Hindi and other Indian languages, will also help parents and teachers to understand and appreciate the requirements for hygienic management of menstruation at homes, in schools and the community.
Documentary film on Menstrual Hygiene Management Initiatives
The issue of Menstrual Hygiene Management and its linkage to sanitation facilities and availability of low cost sanitary napkins has often triggered action by women Self Help Groups (SHGs) working in the sanitation sector. This is clearly because women and adolescent girls are the worst sufferers in the absence of sanitation material and facilities to manage menstruation. Their need for privacy, especially during menstruation, has to be met by provision of sanitation facilities in households and schools. Adolescent girls especially face problems in schools due to lack of arrangements for proper disposal of sanitary napkins.
The Tamil Nadu sanitation programme took the initiative of dealing with these two issues. The successful initiatives were mobilizing and training SHGs for the production of low cost sanitary napkins and providing incinerators in the girl’s toilets in schools. Early in the year 2007, SHG members and selected NGO representatives from 15 states were trained on production of sanitary napkins by the Tamil Nadu team. This has initiated similar activities in the states and Menstrual Hygiene Management activities are now underway across 15 states.
This short film of about 13 minutes focuses on the importance of menstrual hygiene, the simplicity of the process in setting up low cost sanitary napkin production units, mechanisms for safe & hygienic disposal in schools and households and the scope of linking this up with Total Sanitation Campaign. It also talks about how women are benefiting from the process and the innovative marketing techniques being adopted by the groups. This is an orientation film for programme managers and decision makers who would like to take up similar initiatives in their states /districts.