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  • In India, women are key drivers of change in their communities and are helping to spread messages on the importance of safe sanitation and hygiene practices.
    AKDN / Christopher Wilton-Steer
Women speak about the Menstrual Hygiene Management Programme

Over 25,000 women and girls have improved their knowledge and practice of menstrual hygiene in India, thanks to the AKDN’s Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) programme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sangeeta, Bokadthambha Village, Gujarat, India.
Copyright: 
AKDN
“I used to be plagued by menstrual cramps,” says Sangeet of Bokadthambha Village, Gujarat, "and I thought there was no way to ease them. However, after joining a Kishori group for adolescent girls that was created as a part of the MHM initiative, I started attending the meetings and learned how to manage my cramps though eating a proper diet and exercising. I have learned so much more about proper hygiene and nutrition during these meetings.”

Kishori Group meetings help adolescent girls like Sangeeta to come together to openly discuss menstruation concerns and the best practices for managing menstrual hygiene.

 

 

 

Working in both rural and urban areas of India, the MHM programme started in 2015 as part of the AKDN Comprehensive Sanitation Initiative. Its works to:

  • Strengthen women’s and girls’ knowledge of menstrual hygiene practices and safe disposal of menstrual waste;
  • Engage communities in making informed choices regarding menstrual absorbents, and facilitate access to these products;
  • Encourage community support to create an enabling environment around MHM and to address harmful socio-cultural norms;
  • Empower women and girls to discuss menstruation freely and to practice safe MHM without cultural or practical restrictions;
  • Collaborate with governments and other stakeholders for better service and product delivery.

Other women and girls mention the benefits of the MHM programme:
 

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Rudi Behen, Lunsariya Village, Gujarat, India.
Copyright: 
AKDN
“I attend regular SHG meetings held on menstrual hygiene in my village. As a newlywed, my focus was on learning about how to track my cycle. In the meetings, I learned about appropriate menstrual hygiene practices. This has brought a positive change into my life. I am much more confident and do not hesitate when I have to travel long distances anymore."

As a part of the menstrual hygiene management training sessions for adolescent girls and women, Rudi Behen was given an orientation on good menstrual health practices. She has found this training useful in her personal life, as well as her work life, and is now confident in managing her menstruation.

 

 

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Nisha Kumari, Upper Middle School, Ranipur, Patna, Bihar, India.
Copyright: 
AKDN
"Not only have I have learnt of the science behind menstruation from our teacher, I make sure all the girls in my school feel comfortable to talk about menstruation in the Meena Manch meetings. I am proud to say that our school has a pad bank at the MHM corner and an incinerator that we utilise to dispose of our pads safely."

AKF India is creating MHM-secure schools by strengthening girl groups, securing access to products, ensuring access to soap and water, and providing functional facilities.

 

 

 

 

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Sharda Behen, Daladi Village, Gujarat, India.
Copyright: 
AKDN
“I am a member of the School Management Committee and I come across many girls who have been unable to continue their education, due to limitations being placed on them by their parents with respect to menstruation. By conducting MHM sessions for them and their parents at the Anganwadi centres, we are working together to build a positive future for the girls."

Sharda Behen believes that girls should not be held back because of menstruation and has been proactive in engaging young girls on raising their confidence on talking about menstruation and making them comfortable to practice good menstrual hygiene practices.

 

 

 

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Najra Parween, Phulwari Sharif, Patna, Bihar, India.
Copyright: 
AKDN
"Once we began learning about our health and menstrual hygiene, things just did not stop there. Now we want more. We want to study and be on our feet. We are confident to face any challenge that might come in our way.”

Many of the girls who had dropped out of school at menarche expressed interest and have taken steps to resume the studies that they left or to start taking jobs to support their families. Learning about their menstrual health has empowered Najra and her peers from her MHM group to make changes in other aspects of their lives too.

 

 

 

 

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Ranjan Behen, Bokadthambha Village, Gujarat, India.
Copyright: 
AKDN
"I want to ensure my daughter gets all this information on menstruation, and continues her schooling. I am proud to say she is now in class nine. I hope more parents of girls attend such sessions.”

As a mother of two, Ranjan Behen wants to ensure her daughter remains in school and can receive as good of an education as her son. Through the MHM sessions, she has understood how important it is to manage menstruation hygienically, and how her daughter can manage her menstruation in school and at home.

 

 

 

 

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Manjula Behen, Daladi Village, Gujarat, India.
Copyright: 
AKDN
“I work on farms and rear animals for a living. I was walking back home from the field one day and I noticed a group of girls sitting listening to a woman holding a colorful poster that had some messaging on menstruation. I was curious and joined the group. That day I learned how to track my menstrual cycle and its hygienic management. Now, I am prepared every time I leave the house to work on the farm.”

The AKDN field-level MHM training sessions are inclusive for all women to attend. Manjula Behen has found this training useful for her, especially during her time spent on the farm.

 

 

 

 

The Menstrual Hygiene Project is part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) Comprehensive Sanitation Initiative, which in itself is part of the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (“Clean India Mission”).

The Initiative is a five-year programme aimed at facilitating access to improved sanitation and hygiene for over 700,000 people in six states in India. Its implementation is a collaboration of several AKDN agencies: the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) and the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS). A key component of this initiative is strengthening knowledge and practice of Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) for women and girls in these states. For more information, please see the publication entitled:  Menstrual Hygiene Management Programme