Jun 23, 2020

Impact of COVID19 in Menstrual Hygiene Management

COVID- 19 pandemic has impacted each and every sector of human life around in the world. In response to the Nepalese contest, in March 2020 Nepal government has ordered a nationwide lockdown as emergency measure to prevent spreading of the infection. Almost every household, community, organization, sector and nation has been facing devastating impacts on health, economy, food security and livelihood. Public activities are discouraged, families are largely restricted to their homes, all schools are closed and children are out of school across the country.

There are, and will continue to be, clear negative effects of COVID-19 on children’s education, social life, physical and mental health. In such critical condition, it is difficult to manage menstrual hygiene properly.

Sheila, who’s working with Helpcode in Nepal by 10 years, reported that in regular school time, adolescent girls have been received sanitary pad in their own schools but nowadays every student have been out of school and stay at home.

In settings where we are working with the poorest rural girls, they commonly use washable traditional type of sanitary pad. The reason is financial stress may lead to families to prioritize other needs such as food or essential utility bills over purchasing menstrual hygiene materials. On the other hand, they do not have excess to buy sanitary pad in their village. In the urban area, shops are closed since 2 months ago, so girls are facing problem to buy hygiene products. In rural area there are no shops where they can buy sanitary pad to manage their menstrual hygiene. Helpcode had provided hygiene kit to 120 adolescent girls of targeted schools before the lockdown. In this critical days those girls may have using the received readymade pad.
I have been contacted to respective focal teachers and principals in weekly basis. Actually they are not well informed about how girls are managing their self-care and hygiene on monthly cycle because in the rural scenario it’s the matter of shame. Even teacher may feel hesitate to ask about the sanitary pad using condition of their girl’s students at the time they are staying at home with their parents. They just to know that they are using cotton or old clothes folding pads for their menstrual hygiene management because most of the family (female) members have habit to use the traditional pad.

Helpcode is mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 and menstrual health and hygiene for girls and women in communities by providing menstrual materials to avoid disruption of access to menstrual hygiene materials, particularly disposable menstrual hygiene materials that require monthly replenishment. In many remote area shops went out-of-stock or increased price as a result of panic buying, supply chain disruptions in supply chains due to stay-at home orders or simply increased demand due to recommendations to keep “extra” essential supplies on hand.

The COVID-19 pandemic will have secondary impacts on girls’ and women’s ability to manage their menstruation and their health. The impacts will vary based on the country context and ability to respond through social protection and health systems. Similarly, the most affected will be the poorest and most vulnerable to economic and social shocks. Certain occupations will bring greater vulnerability.

The COVID19 pandemic is putting at risk the smooth progress the rural community in gender inequality, discriminatory social norms, cultural taboos, poverty and lack of basic services.

Thanks to the HAPPY PERIOD project, we were able to support Nepali adolescent girls to be more informed about their body, to improve their hygiene management and to have access to menstrual hygiene products for free.

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.

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