Imagine dealing with your period in a place with no or limited toilet facilities, no rubbish collection, and limited water. Where funds are limited – especially for women and girls. It’s one more issue to deal with and it appears to be seriously underestimated. It often means missing school, humiliation, and sexual exploitation.
Chhau means menstruation and padi means a woman. Girls are considered to be impure while they are menstruating and are deprived from their most basic needs for a period of 7 to 10 days.
Our project in Nepal (since February 2017 till in October, and April 2018) is an educational program in West Nepal. Our aim is bringing hygienic, menstrual and sex education.
You can make your donation here: http://beartsy.org/get-involved-with-rato-baltin/
There are several reasons why we decided to name it the Red Bucket Project (Rato Baltin in Nepalese).
Firstly, because red is a relevant colour in Nepal, it is used very frequently, even in its flag, and is one of the colours most favoured by girls and women.
Secondly, because red is a colour which is related to menstruation for obvious reasons.
And finally, because we hand the girls undergoing training a kit that contain in a bucket – hence, the red bucket.
The said kit consists of the bucket itself, a menstruation cup, a towel and a bar of soap. The metal baltin (red bucket) serves the purpose of containing the rest of the items when not in use; more importantly be a means for the girls to carry clean water to the latrine, and also where they can boil water for sterilization of the cup.
We complement the distribution and implementation of menstrual cups in the area with the help of participative photography: this allow the girls themselves to spot what could be improved while they are menstruating (through participatory needs assessment).
Local women and young girls from each community hold the workshops. With the help of local nurses and volunteers, detailed instructions are given to participants on the use of menstrual cup, menstruation and hygiene education.
The final Photo Exhibition takes place in the middle of the village involving the whole community.
Ensuring the schools’ latrines are “girl-friendly” is another aspect we are working on. This involves ensuring a supply of clean water and a latch on the door so that girls can wash and change comfortably.
Besides workshops, and in order to achieve a long-term impact, there is an local nurse visiting approximately once per month and regularly phone calls from our Staff Nurse. This gives the girls opportunity to discuss their experiences with the menstrual cup and their questions or needs to the nurse.
Thankfully, we have a network of local doctors,nurses and teachers willing to help us with both training and the implementation of the menstrual cup. Being the first to use the cups, they serve as an example to the girls and are better geared towards answering any queries during the training and follow-up.
This project is implemented in several stages in order to increase the reach of girls and women, and be able to follow up on the focus groups.
Our aim to is have enough local nurses and women trained so that they can continue the project on their own by implementing the training and conducting follow-ups.
Our starting point is in two VDCs (Village District Community) in Achcham and Kalikot. These two locations are the pilot projects and our current focal points from which we intend on expanding the project to other areas.
The idea and long term goal is to mitigate the negative effects of Chhaupadi.
If you don’t know what Chhaupadi is, you can take a look here:
Since February 2017 we have been in Nepal, with a program to improve the lives of girls and women in rural areas. The program consists of bringing hygienic, menstrual and sex education to the most remote areas of West Nepal. Here girls are considered impure (chhaupadi) while they menstruate and are deprived of their most basic necessities during their periods.
We complement the project with the introduction of menstrual cups and implement it with the help of participatory photography workshops. This activity encourages the girls themselves to find out what can be improved in their environment while they are menstruating.
What are we are doing?
1 – For over 2 months we are in 4 different villages in West Nepal’s most remote areas.
2 – Sex education aimed at both male and female teenagers in local schools.
3 – Hygienic education for all women in the villages, with the help of local nurses and distribution of the menstrual cup in a group of 20/25 girls per village, who will take part in the workshops voluntarily.
How will we do this?
1 – Training local doctors, teachers and nurses who have already been contacted and are interested in the project.
2 – Employing local staff, with appropriate and decent salaries, to help us.
3 – Besides the training to boys and girls, we will also offer training to all-female groups so they can talk about the issue without worrying about taboos or feeling embarrassed.
4 – Delivery of training material -which we will have translated to Nepalese beforehand – so that teachers can continue with said lessons in the future.
5 – Through participatory photography, invite 20/25 girls in each village to spot what could be improved in their lives while they menstruate.
6 – Exhibit their photographs in the town centre and attempt to, with the whole community, consider what measures can be taken to improve their lives.
7 – Deliver a hygienic kit to the girls who took part in the photography project. It consists of a metal bucket, a menstrual cup and instruction leaflet, soap and a towel.
8 – Monthly telephone follow-up with the local doctors, teachers and nurses and biannual face-to-face follow-up with the girls to check how the implementation of the cup is going.
The UNDP states menstrual hygiene is “A Neglected Condition for the achievement of Several Millennium Development Goals”. Poor menstrual hygiene is unequivocally linked to educational, employment, health, and overall developmental outcomes (see a report Here). It’s a problem in terms of safety, health, finances, and also economic and educational participation. Some programs are working to overcome these barriers by making safe, economical, and functional products like menstrual cups available.
There are a lot of studies and analysis about Chhaupadi in Nepal, such as:
The only way to abolish this practice is through mass awareness and education at a community level.
If you ask yourself if that will be good for Nepali women, lets us take a look at previous evaluation programs in Nepal:
MIT Poverty Action Lab Programs
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Poverty Action Lab, have been supplying the MoonCup brand in India and Nepal as part of evaluation programs.
According to reports (“No Menstrual Hygiene For Indian Women Holds Economy Back” – Bloomberg July 25th 2013), parts of India lack adequate plumbing, let alone sanitary disposal units. Around 88% of women in India’s poorer regions “make do with little more than scraps of old cloth”, and “sneak out at night to bury soiled rags in the dirt”.
Women who have been supplied with cups report feeling greater freedom and mobility. One woman said the cup “improved her life and stoked envy from other women”. In Nepal, women and girls said “they were able to bicycle, and that they even forgot they were having their period”.
Results from Nepal suggest that the cups can overcome significant barriers, even if they don’t solve bigger problems.
We will have three broad aims for the project: making voices heard, encouraging self-development, and providing the means to generate income.