Jun 5, 2020

Providing girls with sanitary pads during Covid-19

Ensuring that girls have access to menstrual health and hygiene and that their needs are met is challenging even in normal times in Mozambique, due to gender inequality, discriminatory social norms, cultural taboos, poverty and lack of basic services. In emergencies, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges are exacerbated and have to be understood in the broader picture of how the pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities, including gender-based inequalities.

As of today, in Mozambique there are 352 confirmed cases of COVID-19. From April 1, the country is in “state of emergency”, with schools closed, mobility and meetings limitations, among others. Even though the number of infected persons is still very limited, the impact of the emergency measures adopted to limit the spread of the virus, along with limited capacity of local institutions to function regularly, may disrupt care and support services for women and girls, including the ones at greater risk of vulnerability.

In countries where COVID-19 is already ongoing, reports of domestic violence, violence against women and girls and other forms of domestic violence are on the rise. Given the widespread levels of violence against women in Mozambique, and the restrictive measures in place, it is expected that violence rates will also increase. As existing public services to support survivors of gender-based violence might become unable to deliver, they might feel increasingly isolated and stigmatized, and it is also expected that most cases will remain unreported. Looking more specifically at the impact of emergency measures on girls, Helpcode staff in Mozambique is highlighting two main concerns: that girls from rural areas are sent to live in the cities, with their relatives, to provide for the family while selling items in the street or in the market, or to take care of smaller children as “empregadas”; and that the number of early marriages will increase, as they are often intended as coping strategies for families facing economic hardship.

Providing girls with sanitary pads becomes fundamental in emergency times, as not only has a direct impact on the dignity, health, education, mobility, community involvement, family functioning, and security, but also because they are an entry point for increasing girls’ awareness on sexual and reproductive health and rights as a strategy to prevent gender-based violence – thanks to the peer-to-peer training sessions that the Helpcode staff provides.

In times of COVID-19, typical in-kind distribution of dignity kits might not be possible due to either increased movement restriction (and the need to avoid gatherings and unnecessary movement thus ensuring the safety of both personnel involved and beneficiaries) but also due to procurement capacity considered the limited availability of certain items in the international market. However, access to these items should be considered essential in the prevention of infection, especially for women and girls who are more likely to be exposed to infections, given their roles as caregivers and less likely than men to have decision-making power over their own needs, as well as access to means, resources and information.

Supporting this project today means contributing to a wider objective, that is making girls in rural Mozambique more aware with regards to their rights and more capable of making informed decisions over their life.

Feb 26, 2020

3000 thanks by Nepali Girls

Menstruation signals a girl’s entry into womanhood, sexual activity, and reproduction and as such, is a crucial time for adolescent girls to learn about their bodies and their health. Arati, Helpcode Program Manager in Chitwan is telling us that effective solutions to improve menstrual healthcare is still lacking, as evidenced by girls’ lack of knowledge and unhealthy practices. In Nepal, less than half of adolescent girls have adequate knowledge about menstruation, and only one in ten practices good menstrual hygiene. Adolescent girls’ inability to effectively manage menstrual hygiene affects their education, physical health, psychological and emotional well-being, and general quality of life.

Menstruation is a natural process that signals a girl’s entry into womanhood. While it affects around 50% of the global population, discriminatory practices and policies prevail around the world. In Nepal, 8.8 million girls and women face a complex set of challenges relating to menstruation, these challenges are often influenced by deeply entrenched cultural and religious beliefs.

Some of the practical concerns relating to periods are due to lack of access to sanitary pads and poor hygiene in many public schools and communities and the traditional practice of Chhaupadi persists, where girls are separated from the rest of their family and confined to a cow shed during menstruation. Such challenges and beliefs do not only have fatal consequences for girls and women, but can also exclude them from actively participating in their community, education and work.

Thanks to the HAPPY PERIOD intervention, Helpcode was able to support total 3000 sanitary pads to girls in Chitwan in 7 schools. Sanitary pads were provided to schools and Menstruation hygiene awareness was also conducted in the school. Moreover, 120 dignity kits were distributed in Chitwan school adolescents. Dignity kits included underwear, sanitary pads, nail cutter, hair comb, and cloths washing soaps, bathing soaps, hand washing soap, shampoo and towel. A gift by all the globalgiving friends which represents a strong message on the importance of girl’s health and education for all.

Dec 3, 2019

The period is no longer an obstacle for 309 girls

We started Happy Period with an important goal: bringing menstrual kits to 600 girls from Chitwan, a rural area of Nepal.

We are happy of what we have achieved in 6 months (but we will be not satisfied until we have complete our goal).

Thanks to many donations, we have already delivered menstrual hygiene kits to 309 girls from three rural schools in the Chandibhanjyang municipality. Specifically, in the Pamdada School we distributed menstrual kits to 106 girls, in the Chanaute school to 45 girls, in the Mungling School to 158 girls.

Inside the menstrual kits, there are safe, nice, easy to use and long-lasting sanitary pads.

Vulnerable women produce these kits in our sewing workshop in Chitwan: these women can thus emancipate themselves in turn thanks to the profits they make from their sales. In addition to sanitary pads, the kits also include a towel, a shampoo, a nail clipper, underwear, toothpaste and a toothbrush, a hand soap, a bath soap, a laundry soap and a comb.

At the same time, we conducted courses on menstrual hygiene at the Sarbashanti Secondary School and at the Triveni Barah Secondary School that involved groups of mothers, teachers and girls and boys. The course participants discussed the experiences and practices of menstruation management and the general perception of them that they had.

We also organized a special debate contest with 47 girls at the Srabashanti Secondary School. A committee of three teachers selected the winners who better discussed topics about menstruation. The girls talked about issue and facts the learned during our hygiene course:

  • the physical disorders related to the menstruation;
  • the social discrimination against menstruating girls and the problems faced by female students at school during the menstruation;
  • the health problems due to lack of adequate hygiene during menstruation;
  • the impact of traditional health practices on girls' lives;
  • the negative effects that has the use of dirty and wet cloths instead of sanitary napkins, or other unhygienic materials such as dry leaves, ash and cow dung.

Thanks to your invaluable help, many girls from the Chitwan district looking at future with hope. Menstruation is no longer an obstacle to their study and life.

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