Ensure Mandatory Menstrual Hygiene Service in Anganwadis of Jharkhand before it's too late
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Fulmoni, a 14-year-old girl thought that a leech has gone inside her vagina!!
She was having her first period and she spent those 5 days of her life feeling scared and confused.
Fulmoni is not alone, several young girls in Jharkhand experiences their first period with similar fear. However, they have hardly anyone to tell them about menstrual hygiene.
Lack of knowledge about menstrual hygiene leads to several myths and misconceptions about periods and severely affect these girls both emotionally and physically.
I want these girls in Jharkhand to have access to knowledge and services on menstrual hygiene.
The state already has a strong network of Anganwadi workers who work in villages to provide information to women on health and nutrition. But most of the Anganwadi workers are not trained to talk about menstruation and don’t have any information (like brochures, posters etc.) to pass the right information to the girls in Jharkhand.
Sign my petition and join me in asking the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Jharkhand and Department of Women & Child Development and Social Welfare, Jharkhand to ensure that young girls in remote communities of Jharkhand are provided with mandatory knowledge and services on menstrual hygiene in the Anganwadis.
Through my petition I want the Jharkhand government to:
● Start simple menstrual hygiene services in each Anganwadis of Jharkhand before December 2018. This may include brochures and posters on information on menstruation, availability of biodegradable pads and cloth pads, iron tablets and monthly checkups on anemia.
● Facilitate proper training mechanism for Angawadi workers on knowledge and practice of Menstrual Hygiene Management and promote mandatory monthly sessions in the Angawadis.
● Publish an Audit Report on the outcome and impact of Menstrual Hygiene Management by the Public Health Engineering Department in Jharkhand and the Department of Women & Child Development and Social Welfare, Jharkhand.
● An Impact Report available to the public on the expenses and the outreach to rural schools from the Health Department with the 25 crore amount sanctioned under 2015-16 and 2016-17.
● Ensure a mechanism to monitor the impact of the adolescent program run by Anganwadis on menstrual hygiene in the communities.
The NFHS 2015-16 had reported that only 39.4% of women age between 15-24 use hygienic methods of protection during their menstrual period.
The Central Government under the flagship of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, promises to bring Comprehensive Sanitation and Hygiene among people in rural India since 2014. I have been working with these tribal and Dalit young girls on a daily basis for the past 5 years and I am shocked at how little do they know about menstrual hygiene till date.
Since 2016 Jharkhand State has funded the Health Department Rs. 25 crores to promote menstrual hygiene among school girls distributing free sanitary napkins. But if these girls are not told about menstruation, how to use a sanitary napkin and how often to change it, if they have no idea about how to keep themselves clean during their periods or on disposal mechanisms, then these free sanitary napkins will not serve their intended purpose.
Also girls who have dropped out from schools suffer the most as they have no idea on where to seek information from.
Anganwadi centers are a huge source of information for young girls in the villages. All the government needs to do is to equip and empower these Anganwadis, so that all girls in rural Jharkhand get access to the right information about menstrual hygiene.
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