One of the aims of the Taught, Not Trafficked campaign is safeguarding, supporting and retaining girls in school. The onset of menstruation is one of the most important changes occurring among girls during the adolescent years of 11-15 years of age and so we need to support them during this time.
Adolescent girls constitute a vulnerable group, as menstruation and menstrual practices are still a taboo subject in Nepal and most parts of south Asia, as it is regarded as something unclean or impure. The way a girl learns about menstruation and its associated changes has an impact on her response to the event of menarche.
Although menstruation is a natural process, it is linked with several societal misconceptions and practices, which results in girls and women being ostracised in rural Nepal. This results in many girls and women in rural communities in Nepal still practising unhygienic ways of managing menstruation to escape the existing stigma and discrimination such as social degradation, lack of self-esteem, malpractices of gender inequality, lack of heath and sanitary care to name a few. Girls thus become ashamed and end up falling behind in school which, becomes one of the major factors of why they drop out of school. The school drop out of adolescent girls in rural Nepal has become one of the major reasons of girl trafficking.
Project Chhori has been raising awareness on reproductive health and the launch of school enterprise schemes for adolescent girls.Besides making adolescent girls aware, this project specifically focuses on the production of low-cost bio-degradable sanitary pads. This training programme develops practical skills, while additionally providing the girls in the community with low cost sanitary pads, the revenue of which will be reinvested back into the school. It is envisioned that the making and distribution of sanitary pads to girls by the girls, will not only improve health and well-being by ensuring they do not resort to unhygienic materials, but will also increase attendance, reduce drop outs and create peer group support systems.
The project has also been working towards raising awareness on mensuration to the community, parents, teachers and boys. Thus, ensuring there is a better understanding of it and making sure that it’s a natural process that needs to be embraced and not shunned.
In the last six months, we have installed one machine in one school in one VDC of Sindupalchowk district. The school uses teachers and girls to help make the pads thus also creating ownership of the project. Over 40 girls and 10 teachers are directly and actively participating in the manufacturing and more will be involved as production increases. To date, the school has produced over 2500 pads and distributed over 500 pads to the girls to date. This school is within proximity of 4 other partner schools as well.
With the installation of the machine, over 200 girls in the school have directly benefited. Around 150 boys have also started to play an active role in supporting girls tackle social stigma of menstruation. The project has also indirectly benefited the children and community of the surrounding schools. Over 800 students and 200 community members have been introduced to Project Chhori and the pads through the surrounding schools
On the back of Project Chhori and the sanitary pad making machines, Childreach Nepal also conducted 2 awareness workshops in other districts for its partner schools. One awareness workshop was delivered at Shree Ganesh School during World menstruation Day. The awareness workshop was conducted for 60 girls and boys. During the workshop awareness kits were also distributed to the participants. A total of 350 children and 20 teachers were indirectly benefited by the workshop
Another workshop was delivered at Shree Roshi secondary school for 40 girls, teachers and mothers on menstrual hygiene. The participants were also empowered with information and skills to further educate other students at the school to ensure 500 boys and girls are aware of menstrual hygiene.
We carried out an extensive research project between 2010 and 2013 in Sindhupalchowk and Nuwakot into the primary cause of child trafficking within the districts. You can read our findings report by clicking here.