Jharkhand promotes innovative MHM practices

From setting up sanitary pad banks to the strengthening of menstrual waste disposal systems to regular sessions on menstrual hygiene management (MHM) in schools, gender-segregated toilets, and more, Jharkhand has been leading the change to prioritize women’s health and sanitation needs to accommodate safe hygienic practices.

In fact, the initiatives of the panchayats of Jharkhand have created an MHM ecosystem that consists of awareness, safe usage of menstrual products, and access to menstrual waste disposal facilities.  

Here are some of their initiatives:

Sanitary Pad bank system in Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) Tonto, West Singhbhum: The unit caters to about 600 girls, especially those girls who are unable to buy pads regularly, providing the vitally needed access to menstrual products.  The success of the initiative is attributed to the proper stock management toward meeting the MHM requirements. School girls manage the stock register which helps them to calculate pad requirements in advance while the child cabinet ministers are responsible for ensuring regularity in the supply of pads. The school administration is actively engaged in strengthening the menstrual hygiene-related needs of the girls and in this regard, accepts donations from community members and others to fund MHM activities.

SS +2 High School, Chandil Block, Saraikella, Kharsawan propagates safe MHM waste disposal practices:  The school is a shining example of cleanliness and good menstrual hygiene practices owing to the efforts of the teachers, students, and parents.  Such improvements in the learning environment have helped the school retain its students to complete their studies and contribute effectively towards swachhata. The school is not only working on campus cleanliness and beatification, but it has also put a ban on single-use plastic and constructed a soak pit to manage grey water.  This is in addition to the MHM Lab which is extending its facilities to a large number of girls.  All other MHM-related facilities are also being upgraded and teachers are regularly sharing information with girl students on personal hygiene, crucial changes during puberty, and awareness generation among boys.

MHM Lobby in KGBV Jhikpani, West Singhbhum:  A presentation was made by child cabinet ministers to the school-in-charge about the MHM lab which would allow girls to learn about menstrual health and provide them rest, which would increase their retention in school.  UNICEF supported school authorities in setting up the lab with the arrangement of kits and other items and using school funds, a lab was set up within a week.  According to Ashrita Gope (class 9), Health minister of the Child cabinet, “MHM lab initiative will be helpful in reducing the absenteeism, especially during periods. It is a happy space for girls to rest, learn and discuss menstrual hygiene practices on a regular basis”

Regular MHM sessions in KGBV Angada:  Nodal teacher cum warden Babita Kumari from KGBV Angada realized that lack of knowledge and awareness on Menstrual Hygiene were affecting girls’ learning. Even though good WASH facilities and a conducive environment were provided to the students, the lack of positive health behaviour was a major concern. Thus, Babita with UNICEF supported field agency conducted an awareness session cum training programme for girls comprising discussions, experiential learning, and sharing and use of IEC tools. This session is now being continued by the warden on a monthly basis which led to the setting up of an MHM Lab. Today all 175 girls in the school are not only aware but also vocal about their MHM needs.

MHM Lab in KGBV Gandey:  The students of KGBV Gandey are free to use the MHM lab whenever the need arises. It is a space to discuss their concerns and needs.  In addition, Mrs. Archana Kumari a swachhata nodal teacher took the initiative to form the ‘Mahwari Swachhata Group’ to work as a peer group to influence girls individually as well as in a group.  After attending several online training sessions on menstrual hygiene, Archana Kumari decided to address menstrual hygiene in her school through this group as she thought that with the increasing enrolment of girls in the school, proper facilities and preparedness to ensure a menstrual friendly environment were crucial. Formation of the MHM lab has helped in regularizing MHM discussions and the swachhata group is playing a key role in generating awareness and building confidence among girls.

Helping adolescent girls to remain in school:  Reena student of MS Adarsh Vidyalay, Devgaon, experienced her first period during her class. The cramps and the sudden change she experienced were frightening.  The MHM Lab developed in the school provided sanitary pads, a space for Reema to rest, and information about personal hygiene and safe practices.  With that, she was the first girl in the school to be retained, having complete trust in her seniors and teachers.   Reema is now a part of the group that can help her friends and spread the right information about periods.

Dialogue and awareness generation on MHM:  The State has set another example of ensuring a dialogue and awareness generation among school students on MHM is New Bhagalpur Middle School, Bermo in Bokaro.  This initiative has helped about 330 girls in the school to bust menstruation myths and confidently address MHM.  Under the interventions, proper and better toilet facilities with adequate water, regular availability of pads, and dissemination of information through group awareness session is proving to be very helpful.

Gender-segregated toilets:  Latehar district administration has been promoting gender-segregated toilets for healthy MHM in Turisot, Chandwa block, Latehar.  In fact, their Swachh Bharat Mission – Gramin, Phase II and Swachh Vidyalay Swasth Bacche (SVSB) programme has generated impetus to take forward the WASH agenda with concerted actions in convergence. One such example of the initiative is visible in the Upgraded Middle School Turisot where all stakeholders joined hands to bring cohesive change by advocating for improved water and sanitation facilities and constructing gender-segregated toilets on the campus. Panchayat Mukhiya, Ms. Ranjeeta Ekka took the lead and actively supported the activity by leveraging 15th Finance Commission funds. Through her effort, the school now is equipped with adequate sanitation facilities.

Inputs:  Shreya Tripathi, Jharkhand


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s