Project Pavitra- Taking Menstrual Education to Rural India
In India, 200 million girls lack awareness of menstrual hygiene and associated healthcare practices. 66% of the Indian girls do not know anything about menstruation before they experience it. Since adolescence is a crucial time for tremendous growth, it is imperative to empower adolescent girls with adequate information and skills for menstrual hygiene and its management. Moreover, sanitary waste disposal is another rising problem in India due to poor solid municipal waste management systems. An estimated 150 kg of sanitary waste is generated by a single woman in her menstruating years.
Gender discrimination in learning-spaces doesn’t end with just construction of toilets. “Over 88% of women resort to un-sanitised cloth, ashes and husk sand. Incidents of Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI) is 70% more common among these women…” Report by Neilson and Plan India.
The unhygienic menstrual practices followed by girls/women would often lead to increased vulnerability to RTI’s, PID’s and other complications. Therefore, good menstrual hygiene is crucial for health, education and dignity of girls and women. It is important to make menstrual hygiene a part of health education for the girl child.
The Art of Living has created Project Pavitra- a nation wide initiative for enhancing adolescent girl’s menstrual health and hygiene. The project aims to provide a two-fold solution to menstrual problems in India by:
- Generating awareness amongst adolescent girls about menstrual health and hygiene via sensitisation programs in rural areas and urban slums
- Distribution of eco-friendly sanitary pads for women
The vision of the project is to empower girls with knowledge and awareness on menstrual hygiene to manage their mensuration in a hygienic way in privacy, safety and with dignity at home, at school and in the community.
A total of 500,000 girls from rural communities, schools, and colleges across India, are envisioned to be sensitised on Menstrual Hygiene every year. The project aims to create a sustainable change in the menstrual hygiene practice in the country.
Through the project, the Art of Living hopes to create a sustainable change in menstrual hygiene practices in the country, especially in the rural areas. In the long run, it is hoped that better health status and quality of life, would be achieved amongst girls through the sensitisation programs.
The project anticipates sensitising girls on the issue of menstrual hygiene through Health, Hygiene, and Happiness Program for Adolescent Girls. 1500 dynamic female youth champions would be trained to deliver the sensitisation programs across the country. Through the project, 500 empowered young women with great leadership and communication skills are expected to enable advocacy on the issue through press interviews and discussions, meetings with community influencers and stakeholders and by addressing beneficiaries through motivational messages from their personal experience.
Health, Hygiene, and Happiness Program for Adolescent Girls
This sensitisation program provides know-how on how to handle menstruation, improve girls’ knowledge of personal hygiene and boost their confidence by answering their unanswered questions through interactive and engaging training methods. It also provides information to dispel myths and taboos surrounding this issue. Girls are also taught yoga asanas and breathing exercises (pranayama) that relieve menstrual discomfort.
Objectives of the sensitisation program:
- To make females aware about the normal phenomenon of menstruation
and menstrual health and hygiene management, while eliminating social taboos.
- Help them abide to healthy eating and physical fitness lifestyles
- Inculcate a sense of confidence, pride and honour being a female.
Health, Hygiene and Happiness Program for Adolescent Girls is a 3 day program of 90 minutes per day to sensitise girls between the ages of 11 and 19 years on the issue of menstrual hygiene. The workshops focus on teaching management of mental and physical aspects of stress experienced by girls due to menstruation by teaching them :
- Pranayama to reduce premenstrual tension (increased irritability, bloating and cramps.
- Yoga asanas to keep PMS, excessive or scanty blood/menstrual flow under check.
- Diet for having healthy periods and regaining lost nutrients (using locally available food items (to avoid anemia and weakness).
- Games and skits to help girls dispel myths and superstitions surrounding this natural phenomenon in a playful manner.
- Maintaining adequate menstrual hygiene using local resources.
Sourcing and Procurement of eco-friendly sanitary napkins
The Art of Living will establish partnerships with NGOs, corporate donors and Government agencies to procure eco-friendly sanitary napkins that can be distributed to the young girls and their mothers. Awareness will be spread on safe disposal of sanitary napkins and eco-friendly sanitary pad making units would be established, where feasible.
During the pilot phase in December 2017- February 2018, 321 dynamic female Yuvacharyas and volunteers, from 25 states of India, have been trained to spread awareness on menstrual health and hygiene amongst adolescent girls. Successful Health, Hygiene and Happiness Programs for Adolescent Girls have been organised in Karnataka and Jharkhand by volunteer trainers from the Art of Living, impacting lives of 2800 young girls.
Corporates, Government agencies and Civil Society organisations are invited to partner with the Art of Living for creating social impact through Project Pavitra. Organisations can support outreach and advocacy activities of the whole programme or in selected geographies of their choice. Partners can also support with the procurement and distribution of eco-friendly sanitary napkins.
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