Menstruation is an integral and normal part of female life, indeed of human existence. Menstrual hygiene is fundamental to the dignity and wellbeing of women and girls and an important part of basic hygiene, sanitation and reproductive health services to which every woman and girl has a right.
Women and girls constitute half of India’s population. Yet, gender disparities remain a critical issue in India impacting women and girls’ education, health, and workforce participation.
There are over 355 million menstruating women and girls in India, but millions of women across the country still face significant barriers to a comfortable and dignified experience with menstrual hygiene management (MHM). Taboos and myths about menstruation impact girls’ and women’s emotional state, mental and physical health as well as lifestyle. The challenge of addressing the socio-cultural taboos and beliefs about menstruation is further compounded by ignorance about puberty, menstruation and reproductive health.
Over 77% of menstruating girls and women in India use an old cloth, which is often reused without proper disinfection. Furthermore, 88% of women in India resort to using ashes, newspapers, dried leaves and husk sand to aid absorption. Lack of openness about menstruation makes them believe in the above ideologies, which has the following implications:
♦ Missing school or dropping out altogether
♦ Lack of support system within the community
♦ Limited knowledge of menstrual hygiene practices
♦ Health problems like Anemia, Leucorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases due to improper menstrual hygiene practices
Through the Smiley Days project, IDF helps adolescent girls and young women in overcoming the social barriers associated with menstruation and sensitize them towards KNOW YOUR BODY (Puberty stage), Menarche, Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) & Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR). By providing them with the right information, products and facilities, we will ensure an equal opportunity for girls across India; it also contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 3 and its corresponding targets 5.6 and 3.7 respectively.
Our strategy is three fold:
♦ Educating: conduct workshops to educate adolescent girls & young women on biology and hygiene best practices, provide counseling sessions and distribute informative booklets.
♦ Providing: distribute sanitary products and build new toilet facilities for school girls.
♦ Engaging : engage family members, schools and specialists to increase outreach. Formation of SMILEY GIRLS CLUB in all the partnered school.