Proud to be a Girl
Today we are come up with a story of a school going girl named Payal (name changed) that how she managed her periods and currently how she motivates her peer group in the school and community.
Payal like many poor girls in India has been faced with many challenges in managing menstruation at school. A confident and smart pupil, Payal was frank about her experience since the onset of puberty.
She described, “I was totally shocked when I first saw my period. No one told me about it, so when it happened during class I felt embarrassed because there was blood on my uniform. I remember I was in the seventh standard at that time. I felt there was no one I could talk to. I was so nervous & afraid that there was something wrong with me”.
Payal added, “I was not comfortable going to school when I was on my period, missing school for days which affected my studies. I preferred to stay at home rather than going to school during those days of menstruation”.
For many girls like Payal, talking about menstruation and its related issues are considered taboo. They are unlikely to have any information before menarche from school or parents. If at all they get any information it is likely to include rules on why it is necessary to stay silent or mother instruct to not talking with anyone especially male members of the family. This poses a risk to girls as they continue to practice poor hygiene during menstruation such as using old clothes that have not been properly sterilized (washed well with soap and dried in the sun), not changing regularly and not practising hand washing with soap. As a result, girls increase the risk of infections that can over time if not treated lead to reproductive tract infection. With no provision of a separate girls’ toilet, changing rooms to dispose or change cloth, no sanitary napkin facilities, no incinerators or running water and soap for hand washing,
Smiley Days Project has been changing the lives of many such girls and young women in India by providing them right information & knowledge about menstruation hygiene management and raising awareness among the girls in school on menstruation and how to safely manage menstrual hygiene is also central to their intervention.
Today Payal is a confident and happy girl who like others in her school now understands the importance of good menstrual hygiene and is able to attend school regularly. Now she works as Change Agent in her school & community who educate & aware other fellows to become confident.
Now Payal proudly says, “Yes, I am a girl and I am proud to be a girl. Menstruation is every girl’s dignity and we should not feel shame on our dignity. I love to motivate & educate other girls from my school and community. I do not skip my school during periods”.
We thank you for your support for the girls and women’s reproductive health and rights in India and we will continue to keep you updated about our work and stories from the field.