MENSTRUAL HYGIENE MANAGEMENT

Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) – Awareness Program

Immediately after assuming the premiership, Prime Minister Shree Narendra Modi made a clarion call to Nation to keep our country clean, green, spic and span.     In the wake of this call, a national cleanliness program (Rashtriya Swakshata mission) was launched. This National cleanliness program is an all-encompassing program including National Health adolescent program (Rashtriya Kishor Swasth Karyakram) – rksk. This rksk is related regarding management of menstrual problems and menstrual health education as a part of a larger package of health services for all adolescents. However, menstrual health education is meant to be provided by government health workers. ( Asha / Anganwadi workers )

At this juncture, Mannat Maitri Charitable Trust came to learn, out of serendipity, that menstrual hygiene, its management, education, teaching, learning training regarding menstruation is not confined to adolescent girls only. It should be extended to all menstruating women of all age groups.

Therefore Mannat Maitri Charitable Trust, in the light of national cleanliness program (Rashtriya swakshata mission and Rashtriya Kishor swakshata karyakram- RKSK), studied the problem of menstruating women and eventually started its own program related to menstrual Health Management. Mannat Maitri Charitable Trust, menstrual hygiene management (MHM) program includes menstruating women from all age groups (Menarche to Menopause) and focused on improving “menstruation and menstrual hygiene management awareness program” and targeting all menstruating girls and women.

This Mannat Maitri Charitable Trust, menstrual hygiene management (MHM) – awareness programstarted from the next neighbourhood of Mannat Baba’s Ashram and kept on marching in peripheral mode towards all villages. Till to-date, Mannat Maitri Charitable Trust, has covered over 500 females and over five villages, by organising Dharm-Pad melas (pad awareness carnivals). In these pad- carnivals, beside educating girls and women regarding menstrual hygiene management (MHM) – awareness program, trust also distributes sample of good quality, high absorbent sanitary napkins / pads among beneficiaries for free.

women empowerment through preventive health measures awareness, education, teaching and training regarding menstrual hygiene management (MHM) programincluding distribution of sample sanitary napkins / pads among underprivileged women and girls.

Objective and rationale of the project 

Women and girls constitute half of India’s population, but there is huge gender disparity between male and female population. This gender bias is regarding education, health and workforce participation of women and girls. The wedge of discrimination widens with menstruating women and girls leading to increasing restrictions to their mobility and activities.

We are required to pay more attention towards menstrual hygiene management (MHM) – awareness program.

There are over 355 million menstruating women and girls in India. Millions of women across the country still face significant barrier to a comfortable and dignified experience with menstrual hygiene management (MHM) – awareness program.

Due to lack of awareness, almost about 71% of girls do not have proper knowledge/ awareness regarding menstruation and menstrual hygiene, before their first period i.e. menarche. At menarche, girls have dominant feeling of being in shock (25%) fear (30%), anxiety (69%), guilt (22%), and frustration (22%).

Over 70% of Indian women and girls family cannot afford to buy sanitary pads/ napkins.

47% of adolescent girls in India are underweight.

The woman in India earn 56% of what their male colleague earn for performing the same work.

On global gender inequality index, India ranks 136 out of 155 countries.

Therefore we need to address problems regarding awareness and use of sanitary pad among menstruating women and girls.

role of Mannat maitri charitable trust to address this problem

regarding menstrual hygiene management (MHM) – awareness program.

The means, methods and enablers for menstrual hygiene management may vary from place to place and individual to individual.

Education and awareness

Education and awareness are required because most of the girls in India receive inadequate education on menstruation and menarche. They are unaware with biological aspects of puberty. They fail to cope with psychological needs during menstrual period. Most of the time lack of awareness is due to absence of facilitator, partially literate / week facilitators and target influencers.

The first experience of menstruation and menarche is associated with shame, fear and Agony since they are not aware of the biological reasons associated with menstruation and menarche.

Many girls and their influencers follow cultural practices and tradition and perpetuate taboos that restrict girls mobility and activity during menstruation.             Influencers are mainly mothers and grandmothers. List of taboos includes restrictions on living and eating with and / or cooking for family, restrictions on visiting temples and using flowing sources of water such as rivers and streams.

the means, methods and enablers- for education and awareness

regarding menstrual hygiene management (MHM) – awareness program.

The means, methods and enablers for menstrual hygiene management may vary from place to place and individual to individual. 

Menstruating women and girls should get accurate timely information on biological and psychological aspects of puberty, menstruation and menstruation hygiene management.

THE CHALLENGES

Following are the channels that menstrual management that Mannat Maitri Charitable Trust, brings into action along with challenges-

1-Training teaching and education to the target group

Target group is mostly menstruating women and girls but they are not really trained, educated and aware regarding menstrual hygiene management, since these topics are embarrassing to discuss in classroom or village gatherings / panchayat.

Moreover menstruation is mostly linked with reproductive health, which is a Taboo subject in India along with sex education

2-Influence the influencers and support of community

Most adolescent girl in India rely heavily on their female influencers, particularly mothers, for information on menstruation. However mothers do not feel comfortable discussing menstruation. Their advice is often limited to period management and tend to reinforce negative beliefs.

THE ENABLERES/ CHANNELS

menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and awareness program- is paramount for addressing poor menstrual health.

Therefore Mannat Maitri Charitable Trust primarily focuses on improving menstruation and menstruation hygiene management awareness and education program. Mannat Maitri Charitable Trust adopts the following channels to improve menstrual health education and awareness-

1Support through mass media and messaging-

Mass media includes television, FM radio, social media, public advertisement wiz billboard, posters, street theatre ( Nukkad Natak ) etc. On TV and FM radio may have sponsored program related to menstruation and menstruation hygiene management awareness and education program. Moreover sponsored program of Mannat Baba may be punctuated with in-between advertisement, and  anecdotal social messages.

2- Support from community and influencers-

The first requirement is teachers training in menstruation knowledge and mentorship. Training of parents of those girls who have attained menarche and support through self helps groups. Organizing classroom with explicit purpose to teach about menstruation and puberty. Community health workers who are serving in local setup may require training about menstrual curriculum.

3- Support through girls-targeted education-

There should be teaching and training program in school curriculum/ out of school programming / safe spaces / puberty books.

 distribution of sample sanitary napkins / pads

Mannat Maitri Charitable Trust in the process of educating and making menstruating girls and women aware about menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and awareness program- and regular distribution of sanitary napkins / pads for 500 women spread in five villages in the next neighbourhood of Mannat Baba’s Ashram in the outskirt of city of Bhopal (m.p). The social idea is to spread this movement in the next periphery of the Ashram, (peripheral-march-movement) up to 2 lakh women and 400 villages.

Sanitary napkins / Pads are the part of menstrual hygiene management products. But in India, we are in sorry state of affair since 88% of women in India use home-made products for menstrual hygiene management.

Most of the home-made products are old clothes and falalins. Moreover in dire conditions and in extreme cases it may be hay, ash, ash-sand, wood-shavings newspapers, dried leaves or plastics.

Main reason for using homemade cloth products are-

1- Personal preference and familiarity with home cloth products.

2- Lack of awareness or affordability for high quality commercial sanitary pads.

3- Lack of sufficient information about sanitary napkins/ pads.

the means, methods and enablers for menstrual hygiene management products 

Menstruating women and girls should be enabled with disposable sanitary napkins/pads during periods. Rural India accounts just 32% disposable sanitary napkins / pads since most of the commercially available disposable pads sale occur in urban area.

Currently standard sanitary pads with/without wings have the biggest market share 57% followed by ultra thin pads 35%.

Reusable pads and insert-able products are also available in the market but, there use is very limited. Moreover young and adolescent girls are apprehensive about losing their virginity with the use of reusable pads and insert-able products.

Mannat Maitri Charitable Trust primarily focusses on distribution of sample sanitary napkins / pads as follows-

1- Provide the target group, that is menstruating women and girls, with standard disposable pads with / without wings. That should be of good quality, low cost, high accessibility with appropriate use. All the commercially available premium sanitary pads are “aspirational” but unaffordable. Where as low cost pads vary significantly due to inconsistent enforcement of standards.

2- Training regarding proper use of pads through demonstration. This may lead to optimum use of pads and may help to alleviate certain myths regarding use of sanitary pads. The commonest myth and apprehension is about loss of virginity by use of sanitary pads.

3- In rural India, women and girls are hesitant about asking “do’s and don’ts” regarding pads from male trainer / resource person.  While keeping in view about this Taboo, Mannat Maitri Charitable Trust provides female instructor for training and demonstration.

4- Sometime pad distribution is done by engaging female village social workers and female member of Gram Panchayat also.