Let's Talk about Periods
Girl students of Shree Mahikar Secondary School of Saptari used to leave classes during their period. Many of them would remain absent for four to five days every month, putting them at the risk of lagging behind in studies.
The girls were also shy to talk about their monthly periods and would leave classes because of the fear of getting teased in case their skirts are stained. The piece of old fabric or their mother’s torn out sarees worn as pads would not give them the confidence to stay for hours in school. The piece of fabric would also make it difficult for them to walk and participate in school activities. Another reason was the lack of proper place to change and dispose pads as many of the schools do not have separate toilets for boys and girls, pad disposal place and water.
So, Mahikar Secondary School decided to bring together students, both boys and girls, from grades six to 12 to learn about periods. Students learnt about making pads, managing period pain and menstrual hygiene in general. Girls also learnt how to make pads. For 600 students of the school, it provided an environment to discuss why period is not a shame and not a taboo.
Grade 10 student Niraj says, ““Orientation on menstruation hygiene was provided to both boys and girls. This helped even us (boys) understand about menstruation as a natural process. We are more open about it (menstruation). Now, none of the girls are teased. In fact, boys contribute to menstruation hygiene and sanitation management fund at school.
“We would not dare to stand up from our benches in the fear that we would have blood stains on our skirt. Because of this, many girls would leave their classes during menstruation. However, after the pad making training and orientation on menstrual hygiene management, we make pads on our own which are easy to use and carry in our bags. Even the School’s Management has taken the issue seriously. They have already managed a proper pad disposal system, water and toilets in school,” says Ashika, a ninth grader.
The school has also formed a Menstruation and Hygiene Management Committee of eleven members. The committee collects five rupees from students every month in order to manage menstruation hygiene corner, refill pads and manage sanitation and hygiene of the school.
Principal of the school, Upendra Prasad Sah says, “Making students aware is also a way of making families and communities aware on such issues. The students will now take the message to their homes. We are ready to remove the barriers that disturb students from learning.”
Save the Children through its Adolescent Development program aims to improve the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents by helping them adopt positive practices and various health facilities.