Reusable is Best
In the remote mountains of Kalikot, an area that faces serious transportation issues due to geographical and infrastructural challenges, the availability of feminine hygiene products is limited, if not totally lacking. This coupled with the low socio-economic status of many of Kalikot’s families, means that the options available for many girls and women to manage their period each month is restricted. Furthermore, in a remote area like Kalikot, methods like disposable pads and tampons become less viable when you consider how waste is disposed of. In Kalikot (and in much of Nepal) there is no landfill or mainstream method of garbage collection and disposal – meaning that all waste that is collected is either discarded around the village - or if there is a more significant amount of waste, set on fire near the home. In a setting such as this for both economical and environment reasons, reusable is better.
The organization Days For Girls is working to address this problem and has developed a reusable maxi-pad kit that has proven to be very effective. With the help of Mia Amicas Globally, and local women’s centers here in Nepal we have been able to bring over 3,000 kits to Oda. In each kit there are two moisture barrier shields which snap around the underwear and hold the pads in place, eight absorbent pads, one pair of underwear, and a cloth drawstring bag to transport your kit.
Over the past year we have distributed nearly 700 kits throughout our area, and just recently traveled to the neighboring community of Pakha to distribute an additional 200. In our most recent disbursement, we travelled to Pakha school and had a 20 minute meeting with the girls in each grade to discuss how to use the kits, and good hygiene practices during menstruation. So far the feedback that we have received has been incredibly positive, and we hope that through continued distribution of these kits communities will begin to see more confident girls and women, and better school attendance.
The Pakha girls with their new kits.
Our team has recently begun to conduct a health survey throughout the district, and a few of the questions that we ask mothers in our interviews pertain to menstruation. While the study has just begun, thus far none of the mothers that we have spoken with use anything to manage blood flow during menstruation. Moreover, almost every mother documented that she does not sleep inside her home during her period. We recognize that we cannot uproot deep-seeded cultural practices and local stigmas overnight – but we hope that our efforts will be a small part of the solution to help girls and women feel more healthy and confident.