“Periods don’t stop for pandemics!”
Each year, we celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day to share our own efforts to spread awareness and accessibility to women, girls and men about menstrual health and safety. Menstrual Hygiene Day’s theme for this year, #ItsTimeforAction, couldn’t be more suitable. During these times of COVID19, schools and other facilities in many countries have closed- places that are often relied upon for hygienic menstrual products. Now, there is far less accessibility to menstrual products, information about periods, flush toilets and wash stations.
In many countries, due to lockdown, the production of sanitary products has fallen, leading to shortages even if a woman is able to travel to her nearest supplier. Others who once received adequate supplies through their schools now can’t afford the costs of sanitary products independently. Lockdowns can intensify the impact of household-level taboos and stigmas on women and girls and make it more difficult to manage menstruation.
How We Continue to Make a Difference
Barefoot College Zanzibar is working to continue addressing Menstrual Hygiene wellness during the pandemic. They’re working on different ways to support women and girls including producing and supplying reusable sanitary pads and pledging to provide adequate knowledge on menstrual hygiene management so that ALL women and girls are educated on their periods by 2030.
Findings from the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) in Tanzania show that only 28% of girls have adequate knowledge of menstrual hygiene management and that 60% of girls can’t afford sanitary pads. These numbers reflect averages preceding the pandemic. This already disappointingly low percentage is in threat of falling while the effects of lockdown and COVID19 still ripple across communities. Rural regions are most vulnerable to further losing access to adequate information and sanitary supplies, which is why we focus foremost on these communities.
Barefoot College India‘s menstrual health champions (our local Health Team staff) are supporting the UNICEF India #RedDotChallenge to advocate for stigma and shame-free menstruation. Our team on the ground has also been distributing both environmentally friendly disposable and reusable cloth pads so that girls and women have access to the product of their choice even in a time of crisis. These menstrual care products are manufactured in-house by women of our Health Team and are distributed by our network of community health workers and grassroots leaders.
The Production unit is situated at Tilonia in Barefoot College campus. The distribution network is spread over 2 districts, Ajmer and Jaipur covering more than 30 villages and towns. We have 7 health workers working across these villages coordinating the activities of 30 grassroots leaders for the smooth functioning of the distribution system. Over 1000 women and girls are served every month. Our goal is to grow this number to 10000 this year.
Enriche’s Women Wellness uses fun, engaging tools such as games, compelling visuals, storytelling and role plays to educate women about menstruation and creates a safe and trusted space to destigmatize taboos and myths. Every girl and woman in any part of the world should have access to accurate and stigma-free information, menstrual care products and wash facilities for a dignified menstrual experience.
One of the fundamental ways that we can uplift entire communities is to ensure that more women and girls can have their periods with confidence, able to make informed choices about their bodies each month. It results in more girls staying in school, healthier and confident women and a decrease in discrimination and misinformed stigmas around this traditionally taboo topic. When women and girls can bleed proudly, safely and hygienically, it’s a win for everyone. This year, #ItsTimeforAction!
Join us in supporting women and girls, because Periods Don’t Stop for Pandemics!
You can support our initiatives today to create more lasting change in rural communities.