Happy Periods!! (training teachers and 10,000 students in Tamil Nadu, India)

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  • DavidAlan
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  • David Crosweller
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Happy Periods!! (training teachers and 10,000 students in Tamil Nadu, India)

I can give some experience of girls missing school in India, but as you might imagine it is complicated based on age, whether there are gender separated toilets, attitude of parents etc. The report needs to be paid for, but Neilson estimated that 23% of girls drop out of school when they start their periods ( theswaddle.com/period-bullying-keeps-ind...ls-away-from-school/ ). There are interesting stories in the article that we have heard replicated elsewhere. One head teacher told us that if a girl starts her period at school, three girls go missing – no girl can walk on her own – so three girls walk
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home so that two can return to school (hope this is clear).

We started Happy Periods in 2019, which is now Wash in Schools incorporating CV19 prevention measures, in which a lot of training is given not just to girls, but also boys and both male and female teachers.

I attach the final document that was presented to AusAid through which the original funding came.

We have an application with an organisation to carry out something similar in Sierra Leone. CV19 caused a delay in funding, but hopefully this will happen this year. It involved 5,000 girls (half of which are control).

Anyway, I hope this helps a bit!

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  • Chaiwe
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  • Independent consultant (strategic planning, project management and M&E in WASH, climate action and, gender and HIV) and Part-time Solid Waste Management Lecturer at the University of Zambia.
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Re: Happy Periods!! (training teachers and 10,000 students in Tamil Nadu, India)

Hello David,

Nice to hear about this intervention and hoping that things roll out smoothly this year despite COVID still causing its setbacks. Hope that things improve as the year progresses.

The best part I observed about your intervention is that it has not only targeted the females, rather it seeks to train and educate both male and female pupils and teachers (this has proved effective in Sub-Saharan African countries as well). The approach is has high chances of reducing stigma on the girls who might start their menstrual period while at school, and reduce on both the number of days girls miss school due to menstrual periods.

On the other hand, I feel even the children’s parents should be involved in the training in order to break the consideration that talking openly about menstrual hygiene is a taboo, I recently took part in a study where parents felt outraged that their children were learning about MHM and related topics in schools without their knowledge, they even mentioned that children felt that they could not trust their parents with educating them about MHM as a result, this also owing to cultural values regarding menstrual hygiene.

Involving parents  will ensure that parents have a mutual understanding with the trainers/ teachers, thus being able to talk openly about the topic with their children and also will, as a result, encourage the girls to be in school even on such days when the children feel uncomfortable.

I would also like to find out a few things about the initiative. Since interventions that seek to address MHM work best with improved infrastructure- including the provision of WASH facilities and sanitary products, integrated with education, which provides knowledge to shape behavior and improve health outcomes; Are you planning to include making available menstrual hygiene products and changing rooms specifically for MHM? Will there be a specific female adult who will assist the girls- especially those that might get their period for the first time while in school?

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Chaiwe
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Chaiwe Mushauko-Sanderse BSc. NRM, MPH
Independent consultant located in Lusaka, Zambia
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  • DavidAlan
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Re: Happy Periods!! (training teachers and 10,000 students in Tamil Nadu, India)

Hello Chaiwe.

I will do my best to answer your questions.

I agree, it is better to engage parents of schoolgirls both during and after the education programme, but there are practicalities. Are all parents available at the same time, can the school cope with a sudden influx of adults (if you have 250 girls at school there could be 500 parents arriving), would families attend a meeting outside of school. We are limited by what we can realistically achieve and would prefer to do what we do well rather than spend resources on something that we cannot guarantee would be well attended.

We have a programme to supply washable, reusable and antimicrobial sanitary pads to girls. Previously we had set up a women's self help group to manufacture pads. In most, not all, of the 100+ school ecosan blocks we have constructed we have a separate chamber for girls to change pads – this is determined by the number of girls in the school and the budget! I attach a photo of one such unit we constructed around 2010. 1,500 girls use this toilet block; the four turrets in the 'corners' are the ecosan toilets and the turret in the centre is for pad changing (there is an incinerator on the outside of the wall.

There is normally a teacher who will guide the girls within the school, especially after we have carried out the training. We haven't come across any issues with parents being upset.

Hope this helps.
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  • francoisen3
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Re: Happy Periods!! (training teachers and 10,000 students in Tamil Nadu, India)

Hello Chiawe,

Interesting write up for our girls.

My organisation is seeking funds to train women to manufacture and supply washable, reusable and antimicrobial sanitary pads to girls.

We will appreciate to be mentored on the best materials to use and how to make it free from microorganisms.

Thanks

Francoise FAHEDEF
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  • sarahboats
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  • Running an NGO IGEA Enterprise working the support girls in rural communities have an equal access to a quality education. Currently working on period poverty supporting girls in rural Ghana.
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Re: Happy Periods!! (training teachers and 10,000 students in Tamil Nadu, India)

Wow what you are doing is great! We are doing similar work  in Northern Ghana. Can check our work out here www.igeaenterprise.org 😌
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  • Chaiwe
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Re: Happy Periods!! (training teachers and 10,000 students in Tamil Nadu, India)

Dear Francoise,

I am not so sure about the sourcing of funds, but i do know of an organisation working within Uganda 'AfiPADS' that has been successful in producing high-quality pads, that have good absorption and are easy to wash and dry at the same time. Not to mention they do not easily stain. I know this not from their marketing, but i managed to acquire their product to give them a try when i stopped by their stand 2 years ago during the Stockholm World Water Week.

I think it would be great for your organisation to reach out to them to learn about how they achieve their level of quality and who their potential funders are. Here is their website:  www.afripads.com/  

Regards,
Chaiwe
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(With financial support from WSSCC (now SHF))

Chaiwe Mushauko-Sanderse BSc. NRM, MPH
Independent consultant located in Lusaka, Zambia
Emails: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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  • DavidAlan
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Re: Happy Periods!! (training teachers and 10,000 students in Tamil Nadu, India)

We adopt a slightly different route. We buy and distribute washable, reusable and antimicrobial sanitary pads. The key here is antimicrobial. The women we work with often don't have clean or even boiled water to wash their pads and personal hygiene is paramount.

We use Safepads and you can email the owners (they are based in Denmark and have manufacturing branches in India and Africa) to get prices etc. email, Trine at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – tell her David sent you!!

www.realreliefway.com/products/safepad
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