During the practice of Chhaupadi, which is wide-spread in parts of Nepal, girls and women are regarded as 'impure' during their period. They are excluded from participating in socio-economic and school life, locked out of the house (sometimes sleeping in sheds), refused access to public areas, cannot eat certain foods and have no contact with men. This project decreases discriminatory practices surrounding periods, transforms assumptions and repairs the self-confidence of affected women.
Despite efforts to combat Chhaupadi, it is still commonly practiced in Western Nepal. Menstruating girls and women are excluded from participating in socio-economic and educational arenas, often suffering inhumane and degrading treatment, and are at increased risk of abuse and violence. Excluded from the home, some are forced to spend their nights in cattle sheds where hypothermia, respiratory illnesses, exposure to wild animals and even rape are commonly reported.
This project works to shift perceptions around periods among communities in Western Nepal. This is achieved by working with schools, running programs about safe period practices and providing free hygiene kits. Influential people within the community such as local religious leaders, health workers and traditional healers are informed of the negative affects of Chhaupadi. By raising awareness and providing support, we strengthen the right for safe and humane periods.
This project targets over 5,000 girls and women from 36 villages and 16 schools. By implementing educational support to improve their well-being and mental health, we can undo the damage to their self-belief and confidence. With community meetings across various areas with influential community members, as well as sensitising male villagers, cultural shifts towards humane period practices can be a reality, ensuring all women and girls have a right to be safe and respected whilst on their period.