MENSTRUAL HEALTH AND HYGIENE WORKSHOPS
Date: 6 May, 2017 to 20 July, 2017
Name of the organization conducting the workshop: Shades of Happiness Foundation (SOHF) (http://www.shadesofhappiness.org/)
Head of the Organization: Fitzgerald Anthony Velangini
Total Number of NGOs visited: 6
Name of the NGOs: Protsahan (www.protsahan.co.in)
Pipal Chaaya YWCA Hostel
Nishulk Shiksha Sansthan
Udyam Trust (http://www.udyamtrust.org/)
Kilkari Rainbow Home for Girls (http://rainbowhome.in/our-homes/delhi/)
Total Number of girls: 186
Age-group of girls: 8-22 years
Name of volunteers conducting workshops: Garima Nijhawan, Noopur Lakra, Tanya J Kapoor, Tanisha Kapoor, Samridhi Bhasin
Under the guidance of: Dr. Preeti Kapur (Assistant Professor, Daulat Ram College, University of Delhi)
Duration: 30 hours
Shades of Happiness Foundation (SOHF), is a youth driven non-government organization, working for the past 9 years in slums of Central Delhi, which endeavors to educate, enable & empower the impoverished sections for establishing an inclusive society. We are a Registered NGO, registered as a Trust under the Trust Act 1882.
We started working in 2008 towards Education, Skill Development, Community Development, Youth Development etc. supported by more than 50 volunteers from various fields like Social Work, Marketing, IT, Public Relations, Finance etc.
Under our flagship project, NEEV we operate a Non-Formal Education Center at St. Columba’s School for children of economically weaker backgrounds residing in slums of Central Delhi. The center has been operational for the past 9 years & aims to enrich the lives of underprivileged children and their families by educating and empowering them. Started in 2009, NEEV has positively changed life of more than 500 kids with the help of nearly 400 volunteers. It continues to do so with a highly professional curriculum and expert guidance of various qualified professionals from diverse backgrounds & fields.
There are over 55 crore menstruating women and girls in India, yet millions of women and girls across the country still face significant barriers to comfortable and dignified experience with menstrual health. Young girls often grow up with limited knowledge of menstruation because their mothers and other women shy away from discussing the issue with them. Due to this there are so many misconceptions related to this topic, which are directly bestowed to young girls.
If we go by data released by UNICEF, 66% of the Indian girls don’t know anything about menstruation before their first period. 14% of girls report to suffer from menstrual infection. 28% of girls do not go to school during their periods, due to lack of facilities and materials. In India, menstruation is surrounded by stigma with limited access to information. Many young girls and women do not have adequate knowledge about menstrual hygiene which directly affects their self-esteem, health and education. About 70% of girls in India have not heard about menstruation prior to menarche. 88% of menstruating females do not have access to basic amenities and depend on old fabric, rags, sand, ash, wood shavings, newspapers and dry leaves, hay and plastic to cater to their menstrual hygiene. This leads to Reproductive Tract Infections (RTI) and Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) and severe female morbidity.
So, it becomes important to break the silence around menstruation and teach young girls and women about sanitation and the facilities available in the market.
This campaign is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Water and Sanitation and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (2014)
Keeping all the core points in mind, Shades of Happiness Foundation (SOHF) organized a month-long program of teaching 200 adolescent girls on Menstrual Health and Hygiene related issues. A team from Shades of Happiness Foundation visited many NGOs to bequeath most of the knowledge about menstruation and hygiene to young and aspiring girls and try to break all the taboos they were surrounded with. According to us, there’s a lot to be done in the field of sanitation, menstrual health and hygiene. We hope with this little help several girls, ladies and women will be benefitted.
The topics discussed in the workshop were about basic anatomy of female reproductive system and taught how menstruation is a natural and essential biological process of the body instead of considering it a taboo. It strongly focused on the pointers to keep in mind while taking personal care and deal with the myths surrounding amongst menstruation. It also helped girls to know about the pros and cons of using various products available in the market and the appropriate way for the disposal of sanitary napkins.
To import knowledge on Menstrual Health and Hygiene amongst young girls and achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and preventing girls from dropping out of schools.
It is important to know what girls know about menstruation hygiene, so the team of Shades of Happiness Foundation conducted a survey, which also helped in breaking the wall of shyness and girls were made comfortable so that they can discuss their doubts and problems with the volunteers. Some of the questions discussed in the survey were about their first periods, at what age they had their periods and by whom they got to know about periods. There were questions about private parts also, the number of holes in private parts, name of the holes. Through the survey, it was seen that all girls use pads during their periods. There were questions about cleaning the private parts also and what technique/method they use to clean them. It was made clear to the girls that volunteers conducting the workshop were not professionals or therapists, they were just there to impart education and make them aware of their health and the need to get good hygiene by taking care of their bodies. The volunteers explained the topics with the help of diagrams of female reproductive system and other of holes in women’s private part.
For visual aids, we played the video “Hello Periods!” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Wg18-Ahvv0) published by Menstrupedia (https://www.menstrupedia.com/), which is an educational video and trainer’s aid to teach young girls about menstruation and menstrual health. The volunteers explained the topics with the help of diagrams of female reproductive system and other of holes in women’s private part.
The volunteers discussed about the private parts of the female body and girls were asked to name the private parts.
We asked them about their knowledge on periods, what is the reason for having periods and showed them the products that are available in the market. We also advised them to see a doctor if their periods last for 8 days or they see lumps of blood coming from vagina, have excessive pain during menstruation, etc.
We taught them the importance of having balanced diet during the period days.
The volunteers demonstrated three aasans: Titli aasan, Baal aasan and Bhujang aasan for getting relief from pain or cramps during periods.
The surveys were conducted with only those girls who were present during previous workshops.
Fig 1: Young girls filling the survey
Just to have an interactive session, we played few games and asked them question in different ways. For every right answer they were given rewards just as token of appreciation.
Fig 2: Girls of Udyam interacting with volunteers
We gave blank paper to every girl and asked them to write/draw anything they wanted related to this topic.
Figure 3: Young girls drawing their experiences of menstruation
There were approximately 200 girls who attended the workshop and follow up combined. Initially, fewer girls participated but as the session passed they were more vocal about their queries and doubts. They had little knowledge but were very eager to learn more. Few facts about menstruation amazed them. They learnt 3 yoga asanas.
After workshop, we again went for follow up. This time girls were enthusiastically participating in every NGO. They were telling us, with whom they shared the knowledge which they received. We had interactive session which led us know that after workshop–
A month gap was maintained between follow up so that girls could inculcate the knowledge.
But we can’t rely on the data given above as some girls copied the answers from other girls sitting adjacent to them and there was non-uniformity in the number of girls that were present in workshop and follow up.
The motive of Shades of Happiness Foundation was not only to impart knowledge but also to give few months’ time so that they could experience this knowledge. Somehow, we feel that we have achieved our motive in educating girls.
But this is just the starting of more engaging and knowledgeable future endeavors.
Menstrupedia (for video)
Dr. Preeti Kapur (Mentor, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Daulat Ram College, University of Delhi)