RAP3 MHLR has a target of having 33% women working for us. As part of the duty of care, but also capacity building considerations of the project, we seek to empower women. In order to ensure that we meet this aim, we needed to focus on menstrual health. To ensure the women felt comfortable to work, even when menstruating, we needed to assist in a cultural shift towards better understanding of menstrual health and personal hygiene.
Many women in the Karnali region, where RAP3 MHLR works, face difficulties during their menstruation. Either they may be required to be confined inside a “Chau Goth” (a small hut, normally a cow shed) because of long lasting taboos from the now outlawed Chhaupadi practice. Or it may be that they lack access to suitable sanitary products. Thus, women find themselves unable to work, nor able to earn a wage. Out of the total 1277 RBG members, around 48% (610 Nos) are women, exceeding the 33% target. As such RAP3 MHLR organised training to make reusable sanitary pads and to discuss menstrual hygiene.
121 female RBG members from 64 groups participated in the training. The women were trained to make their own reusable sanitary pad as well as engaging in workshops to discuss menstrual hygiene. The workshops aimed to begin the conversations needed to break down the taboos associated with menstruation. Afterwards, four undergarments were distributed to each woman so that they could get used to wearing them.
MHLR hopes that after the distribution of these pads and undergarments, participants will feel more comfortable continuing to work even while menstruating. Thus, ensuring that the women continue to have the same opportunity to earn a wage all month long. We hope to see a reduction in the number of women not attending work once a month.
Participants were very happy and thanked the RAP3 MHLR team for this support. After training, our social mobilizers gave orientations to all other female workers who didn’t participate in the training on the proper use of sanitary pads and how they can be reused in the future. They were also provided with two reusable sanitary pads and undergarments. In total, 2144 undergarments and 906 sanitary pads have been distributed to 536 beneficiaries in the Mugu section of MHLR.