Menstrual Hygiene Management is a subject of ‘Silence’ and discussion of the topic among women or even between mother and daughter is very limited. Menstruation is a very important natural body process among women which cannot be avoided. It is a distinct step into womanhood for the adolescent girls. Therefore it is imperative for every one of them to have awareness about menstrual hygiene. But lacking basic education and health knowledge, it becomes difficult for many women, especially in rural villages and slum areas, to comprehend the long term effect of poor menstrual hygiene and they finally end up with a lot of health issues such as infertility. Awareness at the right age can make a big difference in the betterment of their health and hygiene.
A very important step is being taken towards this cause by few dedicated YFS Volunteers under the co-ordination and leadership of Mrs. Shashikala and Mrs. Vyjayanthi. On the outset of World Women’s day celebrated last week, it is important to highlight the efforts of a few YFS Volunteers, who have made a significant strive in creating awareness among adolescent girls about menstrual hygiene. A topic as sensitive as menstruation needs a very careful approach.
To ensure that it isn’t a hurdle, the team of visiting volunteers are first trained thoroughly to handle the children effectively. The volunteer training was conducted 3 -4 times last year and has seen good participation. To ease the children into opening up about their concerns, volunteers usually start with sharing their experiences and problems they faced when they were young in a jovial manner. This helps to break the ice with the children and then the volunteers start with asking basic questions. Many girls are hesitant to share any serious concern in the fear being looked upon with disdain by others. This has been countered by giving them chits to write their concern without disclosing their identity. They get to stay anonymous and still air their concerns. The question & answer session is followed by effective videos on biological process that a woman’s body undergoes during menstruation. These videos explains to the girls, who are caught unaware of the happenings within their own body, about the important changes happening in their body and puts to rest the doubts they might have regarding it. A final session is taken on the most important aspect of general hygiene during menstrual cycle. In this session lasting anywhere between 2-3 hours, the girls are taught of the best practices to be followed in their economic condition, and even delicate issues like identifying whether a person touched them with a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ intention are discussed.
The program would be incomplete without the due support of doctors and gynaecologists. The sessions go hand-in-hand with the doctors who have readily come forward to address the problems of the children. Volunteers can create awareness and answer basic concerns but when it comes to a certain problems or health issues faced by the girl, it has to be addressed by specialized doctors. The parents are advised to take the children to the doctor. To make things easier, the volunteers provide the time that is convenient for doctors during the week to the children and ask them to call the doctors only in the prescribed timings and get their problems addressed. The doctors have addressed a significant number of concerns on such calls. The awareness program has been very well received by the schools. In fact, other schools have started approaching the volunteers to conduct similar programs. Parents have started appreciating the program after being advised by their children to change certain bad practices after attending and following the practices advised during the program.
The program has been hugely successful largely due to continuous efforts from a few dedicated full time volunteers and many part time volunteers. Ranging from 5th University Students, the program has reached around 80 schools and 7600 Students in the last year. The figures of reaching out to 5600 students in villages and around 2000 students in towns indicate the amount of effort and dedication displayed by the volunteering women! The volunteers are now planning to train the teachers so that they can impart these learnings in their daily classes. They have also conducted around four sessions in different Village Women Communities and aim to reach out to more this year. The real Woman Empowerment should start from here. Empowerment of the Women, by the Women and for the Women!!