Menstrual Hygiene Awareness in Schools: The Role of Education in Empowering Young Women

The first period is scary or confusing for many young girls in South Asia. Well, it wouldn't be if there was open discussion about it. If there were more conversation about menstrual health, then girls would know about the changes that their body goes through post-puberty.

Would you believe the lack of menstrual hygiene initiatives at school results in girls missing about 24 to 60 days a year? They tend to fall behind in academics. Not having basic hygiene seems unfair, right? This is what girls struggle with every menstrual struggle.

Spreading menstrual health awareness is related to hygiene, builds confidence, and protects self-esteem. Schools are a second home. Children spend so much time there and will have heavy impressions of what they learn there. So, teaching about menstrual health is necessary. This prevents knowledge gaps and breaks stigma.

Schools teach young girls that periods are normal and healthy!

The school lays down so many crucial foundations for children. Teachers have both the opportunity and the responsibility to prepare young girls for the changes through puberty, especially menstrual hygiene awareness! Menstrual education is a must for both boys and girls. It is basic biology.

Girls mostly hit puberty at 12 years of age mainly. Some even get their period as early as nine years. So, we should speak up before the frenzy of getting their first-period hits. It is also a great chance to educate children against stigmas and taboos. Make them aware of the health concerns if menstrual cycles are not taken seriously!

The primary support that any school can lend is having adequate sanitation, water supply and hygiene.

  • Proper infrastructure

Proper infrastructure makes it easier for girls to attend schools during their period. The construction of appropriate washrooms and sanitary pad vending machines is essential. The dedicated school committee must look into the effective execution of the same.

  • Community and welfare

Young children, especially teenagers, are vulnerable. So, having a safe space is what they desire the most. Creating such support is helpful for young girls who are learning about their changing bodies and their consequent effects on mental and physical health.

  • School support

There is no shame in talking about periods. Schools play a massive part in instilling this belief in students, both boys and girls. Speaking openly about sanitary products and promoting menstrual education are primary responsibilities of schools.

If schools encourage such menstrual hygiene initiatives, societal stigma might take a step back.

Delhi High Court announced that schools must take essential steps to educate and sensitise students about periods. This verdict was to reduce the rate of dropouts among schoolgirls that start with their menstrual cycles.

Schools Play An Essential Role in Menstrual Education

According to a survey, approximately 51% of Indian schools lack the proper infrastructure to cater to young menstruating girls. On top of that, around 60% of the schools still need the facilities for properly disposing of sanitary napkins and tampons. Menstrual hygiene initiatives are crucial to reduce these numbers.

  • Menstrual education should also be a priority in schools. It is helpful for kids to learn about reproductive systems and related topics. There needs to be more conversation so that young girls are aware of urinary tract infections and other diseases that might occur.
  • Not to mention how ignoring menstrual health and awareness can harm well-being. Then there comes bullying for getting a stain and nasty comments resulting from the knowledge gap. And eventually, girls stop missing school during their period.
  • Accommodating facilities that are female-friendly are little gestures that can promote menstrual hygiene initiative The concern here is helping girls get comfortable and fighting age-old stigma. The vision must be to establish a better education and health infrastructure.

Small developments are fruitful in the long run. If better menstrual health conditions prevent dropouts, girls have a higher chance of a bright future.

How can teachers encourage girls to share their experiences and feelings?

When children do not speak up in class, teachers work their magic to encourage them. So, if young girls struggle to share their difficulties about their period, teachers can use a story-writing exercise.

Girls can get a piece of paper where they can write down their feelings or any queries they want. Such questions can be anonymous and taken up in a classroom discussion.

Fighting period stigma at school

There is no one correct way to fight discrimination against periods. Nothing we can do would erase decades of stigma in a go. However, we can take small steps to move forward and battle taboos.

  • Sanitary pads can be made available in schools, especially in rural areas, free of cost.
  • Proper sanitation and water hygiene need to be promoted
  • Increase accessibility to menstrual hygiene products and aftercare items

There are still many countries that still need to provide menstrual hygiene products. It is not the short supply but the accessibility of rural areas. In India, there are 355 million who still cannot afford menstrual products.

To Wrap Up

School is a place where children build their foundation in their early years. The values and principles that schools instill leave a lasting impression. So when teachers at school take specific steps to promote menstrual hygiene awareness, we move forward to a more inclusive society.

When schools teach that periods are normal and healthy, women feel empowered. Girls are asked to stay away from religious activities during their menstrual cycle. A survey shows one-third take pills to delay their cycle. It is an alarming trend that makes complications hard to deal with.

To sum up, schools offer education. And it is not just textbook knowledge. It is also about inculcating values and knowing what stigma and discrimination are. With a comprehensive menstrual education, schools can establish a safe space for young girls. We encourage a girl today; she will grow into an empowered woman tomorrow!