Nepal WASH Blog Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) & Development in Nepal

June 24, 2014

Menstruation Matters!

Filed under: Advocacy,Amrita Gyawali's Post,MHM,Menstrual hygiene,Women — nepalwash @ 12:30 pm

Menstruation Matters!

Menstruation is a part of life and it matters to everyone. It is a natural process that all women have to go through but the societal and cultural stigmatization around menstruation often excludes women from services and opportunities. It is unfortunate that even today, this natural phenomenon is still considered as a taboo in our patriarchal Nepalese society— even in the capital city – Kathmandu where people are mostly educated, these superstitious practices prevail.

It has been documented that girls have lower literacy rate than boys because of not attending schools or dropping school altogether due to lack of clean and safe toilet to change their sanitary napkins or towels along with social and religious restrictions while they are menstruating. Due to fear of humiliation and discomfort, girls prefer staying at home the going to school.

To address these issues, this year for the first time Menstrual Hygiene Day was celebrated globally on May 28. This day was chosen as May is the 5th month of the year, representing 5 days, or the average number of days (2-7) a woman or girl spends menstruating each month. And, 28 represent the average number of days in a menstrual cycle. This day offered the opportunity to create awareness on the right of women and girls to hygienically manage their menstruation in privacy, safety and with dignity – where ever they are.

On 27th and 28th May, many programs were organized, coordinated by Nepal Fertility Care Center (NFCC) with the support from WaterAid Nepal, USAID and UNFPA in partnership with key government departments (FHD, DOE, NFEC, DWC and NHEICC) and other different stakeholders including INGOs, NGOs and civil societies with the theme “Let’s start the conversation about Menstruation”.

As part of the celebrations, different programs were organized such as menstruation hour program in schools and on local FM stations in 75 Districts; formal program at City Museum; a report launching on “WASH financing in community schools of Nepal” by DoE; a video screening ‘Monthlies’ and open forum discussion with different government stakeholders.

Speaking at the program, Mr. Ashutosh Tiwari, WaterAid’s Country Representative for Nepal, said “You might wonder why a water and sanitation INGO is talking about menstrual hygiene. It’s because we are trying to make the important point that for women’s empowerment we should start with something like menstrual hygiene. Reliable access to adequate safe water and sanitation is one critical element which gives women a sense of freedom, and keeps her healthy during menstruation”. He added “By talking about periods, we can help normalize this natural process and help girls and women live healthier and more dignified lives.”

I am thankful that I got an opportunity to deliver the closing remarks on the 27th of May where I raised the issue on hardship of women with disabilities during menstruation days due to lack of disabled friendly toilets in public places. There were around 60 participants and everybody kept talking about the importance of menstrual hygiene, however, not a single person spoke about the need to consider women living with disabilities while talking about menstrual hygiene management. Thus I urged everyone to raise issues on the needs of women living with disabilities while advocating about menstruation hygiene.

This post is written by Amrita Gyawali , E and I consultant

May 2, 2014

WaterAid Nepal office inaugurates its first disabled friendly toilet

Filed under: Amrita Gyawali's Post,Gender,Women — nepalwash @ 4:02 pm

WaterAid Nepal office inaugurates its first disabled friendly toilet

On 2nd May 2014; WaterAid’s Head of South Asia Region, Mr. Tom Palakudiyil together with Ms. Amrita Gyawali, E & I consultant for WaterAid Nepal inaugurated the disabled friendly toilet at WaterAid Nepal office. Construction began around 3 months ago and has finally been completed, the toilet is now ready to use.

Addressing the inaugural programme, Mr. Palakudiyil said “we need to walk the talk and this initiative of WaterAid Nepal (WAN) office is really a remarkable one.” In addition, he congratulated the WaterAid Nepal team for being the first WaterAid office in South Asia to construct a disabled friendly toilet.

Similarly, Ms. Gyawali remarked “I am very happy that our office has built this disabled friendly toilet. Now, I can use the toilet without any discomfort as easily as my colleagues.” She further added with a smile that “This is the first toilet where I can see myself in the mirror and use basin for hand-washing without any struggle.”

WaterAid Nepal is working in providing Water Sanitation and Hygiene services to the most marginalized and vulnerable groups since the past 27 years.  Equity and Inclusion (E and I) is central to all of WaterAid’s projects and activities.

This post is written by Ms. Kamala K.C , Consultant –  WaterAid Nepal

March 25, 2014

I demand my money’s worth

Filed under: Advocacy,Amrita Gyawali's Post,Equity and inclusion,Human rights — nepalwash @ 9:55 am

Just recently I went to QFX Civil Mall (8th floor) to watch a movie with my friends I chose QFX Civil Mall because I found out that they had a wheelchair accessible toilet there. I was happy that I would get to watch a movie with my friends. However, when I entered the hall, I thought that there would also be accessible seating areas for a wheelchair but no attention was paid to this aspect. However, I managed to sit on a seat so that I could sit next to my friends. It wasn’t so comfortable, but I enjoyed the movie without any worries because I could use the toilet easily with privacy if had a sudden emergency.

Throughout my life; simple things such as going to a movie became a difficult task for me. As there were no disabled-friendly seats, I was always placed in the walking passage; this was very humiliating; I felt alienated. Moreover, instead of watching the movie I had to constantly wish that I did not have to use the toilet, as almost all movie theatres lacked disabled-friendly toilets.
QFX has certainly taken a good initiative by constructing disabled-friendly toilets, however if it had disabled-friendly seats that would have been even better.

The obstacles are not only limited to theatres, there are a number of big public buildings, (super markets, shopping malls, libraries, cafeterias etc) in the urban areas of Nepal but it is still hard for me to find a single wheelchair accessible toilet that I can use to relieve myself. At the end of the day, I have to return home with a sad face and heavy heart. Just try to imagine how you would feel if you had a sudden emergency to use the toilet but you couldn’t find a single toilet to urinate or defecate and had to hold it for long time; it is so distressing.

I have never enjoyed the same facilities as the other. I always have to receive second-class services. Why do I have to struggle to have enjoyable outings with friends? Sometimes I feel like being in a wheelchair is limiting my personal happiness, choices for recreation and get-together with friends and relatives. However , I know that being in a wheelchair is not the real problem, it is the way our environmental and attitudinal barriers, regards a person with disability ; people think that disability represents destitute and poor people who cannot afford to go out to cinema halls, shopping malls, restaurants and other public places. This is a misconception; just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you are destined to a poor quality of life. Such incorrect assumptions about disability are actually the most difficult barriers to overcome. As a paying customer I demand equal rights as any other customer who pays full to get services.

Why don’t people realize that making public buildings accessible for everyone will help make the lives of many people easier and happier; In addition, it will also help increase customers and gain profits. It is understandable that change cannot happen overnight but it should not be ignored. Accessibility is important for everyone -it should be everybody’s business.

This post is written by Ms. Amrita Gyawali, E & I consultant for WaterAid Nepal

December 30, 2013

Second career expo for persons with disabilities

Third December is celebrated worldwide as an International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This celebration helps promote awareness on disability issues and rights. This year the global theme for the day was “Break barriers, open doors: for an inclusive society and development for all”.

As a part of the celebrations, Nepal’s Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare, National Federation of the Disabled Nepal (NFDN), UNICEF, Association of International NGOs in Nepal (AIN), and Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FNCCI) in association with www.merojob.com came together to organise the second Career Expo for People with Disabilities on the 13 December. The aim was to promote employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in Nepal. (more…)

November 27, 2013

Inclusive toilets for all: A commitment made in SACOSAN V

Nepal hosted the Fifth South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN V) from October 22 to 24 in 2013 in Kathmandu. Adopted by all the participating governments and 400+ delegates, SACOSAN’s slogan this time was: “Sanitation for All: All for Sanitation”.

This year, I had a personal connection to SACOSAN V. Based on my presentation earlier this year on WASH and women with disability at a WaterAid-Nepal-hosted event, I was asked to submit a paper to the SACOSAN Technical Group. Shortly after I did, I learnt that my paper had been selected for a presentation in SACOSAN-V. I was very happy. (more…)

June 24, 2013

A woman with disability speaks up for sanitation

I was one of the key presenters in the closing ceremony of the National Sanitation Action Week, held on 11 June in Kathmandu. The event was really informative for me. As a wheelchair user I am challenged on a daily basis when trying to access toilets. As a woman, it’s even harder.  It’s depressing that there’s not a single toilet that I can access.  This meant I had to stop going to school, college and many places I wanted to be. I missed my lessons at school and had to stay at home for self study. In a way, I was deprived of my fundamental human rights.

This post is written by Amrita Gyawali

This blog was created by WaterAid under the creative commons licence