With the idea of assisting adolescent girl students to overcome the challenges of menstruation and adopt better hygiene practices so that they would remain healthy and attend school regularly, even during periods, a Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) lab has been developed in the Government Middle School of Puraini Gram Panchayat in Chatra district of Jharkhand.
The MHM lab is a dedicated space for girls to rest during their periods if required and learn about sound menstrual hygiene practices. It has been well decorated with wall paintings which include messages and pictures related to the menstrual cycle, nutritional diet, breaking myths and taboos, along with IEC materials, charts, posters, all acquired with the help of funds received from the Drinking Water and Sanitation Division in Chatra.
As many as 130 girls and 6 teachers who belong to the school have access to this facility.
Previously, teacher of the Puraini School, Ms. Rinku Kumari, had been concerned about the low attendance of girl students and challenges they faced owing to lack of access to knowledge and facilities in the school. Through initial discussions and meetings, the teacher informed the school management committee and the parents about the need for the facility, highlighting the importance of a MHM lab and how its presence in a school will lead to enhanced participation and learning.
The facility was set up by a UNICEF supported LEADS team who oriented the school about the MHM lab concept and its usefulness.
The Middle School in Puraini took the lead in this initiative with the support of School Development Fund and the District Water and Sanitation Department of Chatra. UNICEF field partner team members facilitated the information flow and funds arrangement.
Welcoming the initiative, “Nothing will ever change unless we all challenge the stereotypes, stigma and the taboos surrounding menstruation,” Rinku Kumari said.
“I am excited that we need not miss school during periods and we have a place to relax. There are interesting books in the lab, which I am looking forward to reading,” – Shikha Kumari, a standard VI student.
On their part, the teachers are ensuring that girls do not miss school during their periods and have adequate access to the sanitation facility. Recently, the lab was equipped with a bed, a hot water bag and general medicines (prescribed by a certified doctor) to relieve menstrual pain. A query box has also been introduced to address MHM questions of students every month.
Girls are being motivated to utilize this platform to get their doubts and queries answered. Taboos surrounding menstruation are being addressed too. The school hopes that a qualitative change can be brought about within the community through this facility and that other schools are motivated to provide similar facilities to their students.