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

This blog was created by WaterAid under the creative commons licence