Menstrual management in India, with Tata Trusts

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Context

A woman menstruates for an average of 40 years, i.e. 3000 days or 8 years in her life time. Menstruation is a sign of health and vitality in a woman, however it is amongst the most stigmatised facets to a woman’s life, and something even mothers and daughters do not communicate about, freely. India has an estimated 113 million adolescent girls who particularly vulnerable at the onset of menarche (MDWS, India, 2015).

In India, 52% girls are unaware about menstruation until menarche. It is also found that 70% mothers consider menstruation dirty (LSTH et al, 2016).

Poor menstrual hygiene can be attributed to lack of materials available in rural areas because of which 88% of menstruating women use alternatives, such as old fabric, rags, dried leaves, sand, hay, newspaper, etc. 66% women manage their menstruation in the open in the absence of toilets (Indian Journal of Medical Ethics,2008).

In terms of educational outcomes, 23% of the girls in India drop out of school when they reach puberty due to lack of functioning toilets. Girls typically miss 1-2 days of school per month (United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF, 2015). There is also a severe environmental impact, each woman who uses sanitary napkins throws away 125 kg of non-biodegradable absorbents used during menstruation in her lifetime (NDTV article, Anisha Bhatiya, 2018)

About 52% of the female population is of reproductive age (Census of India, 2011) and most of them are menstruating every month. The majority of them have no access to clean and safe sanitary products, or to a clean and private space in which to change menstrual cloths or pads and to wash. Millions of girls and women are subject to restrictions in their daily lives simply because they are menstruating.

Some major findings from a baseline studies across 7 states are highlighted below:

  • 70% of the women did not know why women menstruate
  • 92% of the women believed that white discharge is harmful for the body
  • 40% of the women felt it okay to discuss menstruation
  • Only a mere 10.25% of them said they had spoken to their mothers about menstruation
  • 55% of women did not enter the kitchen while on their period
  • Women had to travel a 9km distance to buy menstrual products
  • 20% of the women did not use the toilet during their menses

Women and girls did not know the reason why they menstruate, neither were they aware of how it happens i.e. the biological process behind it. Lack of basic information regarding menstruation and healthy menstrual practices, acts like a catalyst in accepting and furthering the stigma associated with it. Women mostly use available cloth at home to manage their menstruation and were not aware of the importance of drying it in direct sunlight, nor changing it on a 6 hourly interval; which increases the chances of RTI/STI/UTI and other health issues. There was no dialogue between the mother and daughter on menstruation, which is very crucial for the mental health of an adolescent girl who gets her first period. Being able to talk to her mother and understand the what, why and how is very important for every girl for her to understand and accept menstruation as something she will be dealing with all her life. Overall, women said they spoke to their sisters
and friends about it and in hushed tones; they did not think it is something that can be spoken about. In addition, the myths and taboos associated with a menstruating women outnumber everything else. A woman does not use the toilet during her menses, does not enter the kitchen nor the temple, some wear different clothes, use different utensils. Some are also asked to stay in the cowshed for the days she is bleeding and most women complained that they do feel very isolated due to all these taboos. Yet, no one has ever dared to speak about it because the myth that a menstruating women is impure, makes a woman feel too impure to even begin a dialogue.

Goals 

To offer information and solutions across safe and effective Menstrual Hygiene Management in ~900 villages, covering ~2,00,000 girls and women and ~45,000 boys and men in 3 years.

Activities

  • Women Health Groups will be mobilized and activated at the community level, developing a cadre of empowered women and girls
  • Dissemination of accurate knowledge with an intent to adopt hygienic behaviour practices and access to affordable, market standard absorbents based on informed choice
  • Safe Disposal of absorbents

Key Performance Indicators to be reached (KPIs)

  • Percentage of girls and women practicing recommended hygiène behaviours
  • Increase in number of girls, women and boys with enhanced awareness level on MHMs on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)
  • Percentage of women talking to healthcare providers on symptoms related to menstrual issues

Cost per beneficiary: $14 per beneficiary over a period of two years. Therefore, costs to cover approximately 20,000 beneficiaries would be $280 000 depending on geography over a period of two years.

 

KBF CANADA is working with TATA TRUSTS on this project. Established in 1919, the Tata Trust is one of the oldest philanthropic institutions in India. Through the century, the Tata Trusts have constantly endeavoured to achieve societal and economic development for attaining self-sustained growth relevant to the nation. They support an assortment of causes such as health, nutrition, education, water and sanitation, livelihoods, social justice and inclusion, skilling, migration and urbanisation, environment, digital literacy, sports, arts, craft and culture, and disaster management to name a few. They seek to empower, enable and transform communities across India, while improving the quality of life of the tribal, underserved, underprivileged, backward and minority sections, and laying special emphasis on women and children.

 

How to support this project?

By credit card: At the top right of this page, indicate the amount you wish to donate, and make the donation online by credit card. You will receive a receipt for tax purposes by e-mail just a few minutes after making the donation. Simple and fast!

By cheque: Mail the cheque to the KBF Foundation CANADA, mention ‘Project B503– Menstrual management in India with Tata Trusts’ in the ‘For’ section and send it to: KBF Foundation CANADA, 1 Place Ville Marie, Suite 1670, MONTREAL, QC, H3B 2B6  – CANADA.

By Direct Deposit: Send an email to the KBF Foundation CANADA [email protected] or call +1 514.481.2000.

All donations are eligible for a tax receipt in Canada.

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