STORY PREVIEW

2018

Unnati- Being Period Proud

Epiphany EMS

Maharashtra

MENTOR

Srishti Kalra

STUDENTS

Parth Erande,

Anuraag James,

Masira Sheikh,

Khushi,

Saeeshrita,

Anjali Taware,

Khashman,

Vivek,

Pranav,

Step 1 FEEL

1. The silencing attitude of men and women around the community on the subject of menstrual hygiene. 2. Absenteeism/ drop out of school going girls due to lack of availability of sanitary products. 3. Unreasonable restrictions on daily activities for girls during their periods. 4. Adolescent changes leading to negative effects associated with peer pressure, bullying and arrogance leading to disruptive classroom practices.

"We chose to break the silence and stigma around our menstrual health because we experienced resistance from a lot of households when we went to understand their conditions and attitudes around it. Everyday, so many of us go through this pain in ignorance. Some of the girls had no knowledge about the same during the onset of menstruation. Boys on the other hand seem reluctant to learn about menstruation or perceive it in its right form. Hence, we decided to solve this problem starting from our own school."

Girls during their puberty: Due to absence on information about sanitary practices, eating habits, and safe disposal the girls weren't able to take proper care of themselves. This also led to a lot of absenteeism and false myths being spread around the school.

Step 2 IMAGINE

1. Educating the girls through sessions on puberty and Menstrual Health. 2. Implementing the MHM toolkit in school. 3. Emergency pads in a place where girls know where to find it and separate disposal place. 4. Informational program for the school staff with the parents. 5. Wash Club within the school and Wash Representatives in each class to conduct activities in the class. 6. Initiating MHM toolkit in the school with sessions scheduled throughout the year.

The solutions mentioned are to be implemented within the next 6 months. Along with these, the school collaborated with other organizations working on the similar topic to leverage manpower and other opportunities were grabbed over time: 1. Aks Foundation was invited to take sessions on Gender Sensitization for Grade 4-7. 2. Period Fellows from SukhiBhava Foundation took sessions with adolescent girls to introduce menstrual cycle, trust circles, PMS, sanitary products available and discussing beliefs and practices during menstruation. 3. A low cost pad-dispenser machine has been installed in the school with the aid of the trust. 4. In the first of a kind, boys from the Wash Club attended the sessions for Menstrual Health to prioritize the health of girl and clear their preconceived notions around it.

Step 3DO

The students started by taking a survey of the mothers in the community to understand a) the reserve or the lack of it within the parents to speak about personal hygiene. b) the knowledge/awareness around puberty and menstrual hygiene. The next steps involved conducting age-appropriate sessions on gender sensitization and puberty for all students. After ensuring every child has been educated with basic information, the council will have 'Wash Monitors' as part of the Wash Club to conduct MHM activities on a regular basis to ensure sustainability and making Menstrual Hygiene Management an integral part of the community so the girls do not miss school and eventual increase in a girl’s confidence, sense of value, and self-worth.

The anticipated impact after completing the project are: Primarily, on the school level: 1. Adolescent students are able to integrate bodily changes into their self identity and accept the differences positively. 2. The gender bias stemming at puberty is diminished by proper awareness of physical and emotional changes in both the genders. 3. The stereotypes of what behaviors are acceptable for young girl and boys are busted by providing an open platform to discuss our bodily changes. 4. Teachers will be trained to identify complex emotional changes so they can build relationships with students by adapting a respond approach over react with disruptive behavior. Eventually, on Community level: 1. Sessions for parents along with kids so the knowledge gap is bridged for all sources of information for the child. 2. Fewer stereotypes for the girl child and the educated parent can contribute significantly to their family’s health.

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"I feel afraid to answer in class when I'm on periods because of fear of any stains. I don't want to feel afraid of being teased all the time. If the boys in my class know about periods like we do, this will not happen and the project will help us with that. " - Madihabi Sheikh, Grade 8. "Didi, I know about periods but I can never speak to my sister or classmates about it because they will judge me. If we all can speak about it openly, it will help clear so many doubts and then I can help my classmates openly." -Khashman, Grade 9

The biggest challenge was for the students to conduct a survey where the parents would openly discuss their personal hygiene with the students. The challenge was overcome by trying a different approach in the questionnaire wherein the mindset of the students was shifted from a probing approach to an understanding approach and making the parents comfortable with hygiene before interviewing them. Other challenges included working with all partner organizations during the school hours and getting all teachers/staff invested in the process.

MORE THAN 30 DAYS

Good health and well being

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Step 4 SHARE

The school council shared the project with the students in the morning assembly and with the teachers in their 'Project Pitch'. The project is yet to be shared with the community through sessions scheduled for parents. The school has also worked on an episode with Doordarshan on this topic with a vision to reach/impact all communities across the nation that will be telecast in the next year. Along with this, the school students spoke about the Menstrual and Mental health of women on Aakashwani Radio and in KER (Kids Education Revolution).

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1. Initiating 'Wash Club' in the school and having Wash Representatives in each class will ensure the dialogue around acknowledging out puberty and hygiene never diminishes. 2. Comfort kits in schools will always be handy for all the students and teachers. 3. Invested Teachers as MHM co-coordinators to take regular educational sessions and invite partner organizations in school will ensure that the impact of the project sustains after this year as well.