#MenstruationMatters in Bangladeshi schools

28 May is Menstrual Hygiene Day. In Bangladesh, BRAC field staff are working hard to “end the hesitation around menstruation” especially in schools.

BRAC staff member (left) from Jessore district with sanitary napkins for schools.

BRAC staff member (left) from Jessore district with sanitary napkins for schools. Photo: Petra Brussee/IRC

Field staff of BRAC WASH in Bangladesh talk just as easily about menstrual hygiene as they do about water seals for toilets or hand pumps. At community level menstrual hygiene messages are included in the programme for adolescent girls and young women. Since 2006 about 45 million community cluster meetings have been organised.

In rural areas rags are used by women who cannot afford sanitary napkins. Field staff discuss menstrual hygiene with adolescent girls and young women, for example on how to wash rags with soap and dry them in the sun. They are also encouraged to speak up about menstrual hygiene says Abu Taleb Biswas of BRAC WASH in Hygiene Promotion – the backbone of BRAC WASH: “Women and adolescent girls learn to speak up about menstrual hygiene issues, something that was nearly unthinkable even a few years ago.”

Menstrual hygiene poster.

Menstrual hygiene poster. Credit: BRAC


Menstrual hygiene is also an important focus of the BRAC support for schools. From a study on how much a school programme costs in Bangladesh it was found that 96% of the schools supported by BRAC have facilities available for the bulk disposal of napkins.

Since BRAC WASH started with WASH in Schools in 2006, more than one million girls were reached with separate toilets for girls as well as with menstrual hygiene education. According to an impact evaluation of the first phase of the BRAC WASH programme by BRAC’s Research & Evaluation Division, the absenteeism of female students reduced from 44% in 2006 to 33% in 2011/

Menstrual Hygiene Day

MHD-logoIRC is proud to be one of the over 230 partners supporting Menstrual Hygiene Day, which was initiated by WASH United in 2014. The focus of the 2015 edition is to “end the hesitation around menstruation” and challenge societal norms that claim that periods are shameful or dirty.

This year, there are Menstrual Hygiene Day activities in around 40 countries. In Bangladesh, SNV is organising a week-long awareness activation plan targeting some 1000 female garment workers.

In Uganda the National Menstrual Hygiene Management Steering Committee is organising an advocacy walk to Parliament. Supported by the government, Uganda is witnessing a great effort to focus more on menstrual hygiene management. In August 2014, over 200 delegates attended the first ever menstrual hygiene management conference in the capital Kampala.

In the Netherlands, Rutgers, Simavi and Women on Wings have launched the 1weekextra campaign to improve the situation of menstruating girls and women in Bihar, India.

ik_pictureIngeborg Krukkert, Programme officer | Sanitation and hygiene specialist, IRC

This blog was originally posted on the IRC website

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