More than 40% of women between the ages of 15 and 24 in India don’t have access to sanitary products, but the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) in Hyderabad is working to change that.
Launched in 2018, its Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) program is helping 150 government schools smash period taboos, the Hans India reports. The WASH in Schools Leadership Course teaches menstruators to have pride and dignity. It aims to break antiquated traditions and beliefs that label people who menstruate as dirty or impure. The class also teaches nutritious eating, helps young girls learn about their bodies and reproduction, and explains menstrual hygiene management.
In each school, two students and two teachers are selected to be menstrual hygiene educators.
Two sisters who completed the training project are already seeing changes in their community change as a result.
“We never used to touch flowers,” Soumya Kadari, one of those students, explained. “Now we know that flowers don’t die if we touch during our periods and we can do all that we want to do during periods.”
Since completing the course in December 2018, Kadari and her sister Bharathi, eighth graders at a high school in Subedari, Hanumakonda, were appointed “Sani Warriors.” Now they’re educating other students in their school, and their families about menstrual hygiene. Following the course, their school agreed to administer free period products for three months.
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The cultural shame attached to periods and a shortage of resources stop people who menstruate from going to school and working every day. It has been estimated that as many as 1 in 5 girls in India drops out of school after they get their periods. Educating girls and boys on menstruation at home and school promotes healthy habits and breaks stigmas around the natural process, as the Kadari sisters can attest. Souyma said since finishing the program she no longer feels like her life has to stop just because she’s on her period.