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Grantee stories

Putting menstrual health on the agenda through advocacy and movement building

Grantee Partner: Beyond Beijing Commitee

Grant type: Strengthening

Priorities: Stigma, Youth

Country: Nepal

With the support of AmplifyChange, Beyond Beijing Committee Nepal (BBC) implemented a project titled ‘Menstrual Hygiene and Management and WASH in School’. The project took place in Nepal from 2017-2019, and was further extended from 2019-2021. The project addressed menstrual health and hygiene management (MHM) in schools, specifically focusing on education and access to girl-friendly toilets, through government and community advocacy to allocate sufficient funding to construct equipped facility to support girls during their menses in the schools. Alongside local and federal advocacy, BBC provided comprehensive information to create awareness among young girls and boys about adolescent changes and menstrual health. The project additionally helped strengthen BBC’s organisational capacity and built stronger network and alliances for advocacy on issues surrounding menstruation.

Two women are holding examples of cloth menstrual pads
The BBC team doing a pad demonstration in a school

With their Strengthening grant, BBC conducted research to understand the status of girl-friendly toilets in 62 schools in the rural municipality of Kavre. BBC developed strategies based on the findings of the study to conduct evidence-based advocacy at the local and federal level. During the project, one of the local governments allocated budget to ensure girl-friendly toilets in schools by providing door locks, bins and space to change. Further school-based advocacy in the form of Community Health Education Sessions led to increased understanding amongst students and teachers about menstrual health, puberty, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and living a healthy life. BBC provided a MHM Values Clarification Training to teachers virtually during COVID-19, which has been one of the most effective trainings in creating awareness, clarifying the misconceptions and tackling taboos among teachers.

A group of four people are smiling and posing for the camera, holding signs promoting menstrual health access.
MHMPA members celebrating MH Day

Movement building is a key feature in BBC’s menstrual health advocacy work. BBC developed a strong network and alliance with government and non-government stakeholders as part of the Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management Partners’ Alliance (MHMPA) during the project duration and is the secretariat of the Alliance since 2022. MHMPA has been a platform where UN, bilateral agencies, I/NGOs, civil societies, media, private sectors, researchers, academicians, and celebrities work in collaboration and partnership for public awareness and education, advocacy, innovation and research around menstrual health and hygiene in Nepal. BBC, in partnership with MHMPA, organizes MH Day events annually. In 2023, BBC amplified the intersecting voices of young menstruating individuals, including young woman, woman and girls with disabilities, and transmen, while developing plans, programs and policies addressing menstrual health.

Additionally, BBC supported the organisational development of network partner Mahila Jagaran Samuha, who led the field implementation in Kavre, supporting them in formulating organisational policies. This further enabled them to take on additional responsibility of leading other programmes in partnership with BBC at the local level, including community awareness and sensitisation programmes and advocacy with local government regarding SRHR, of which MHM is an integral part.

Further impact

As MHM is an integral part of SRHR, BBC has continued awareness raising among young people and advocacy efforts both individually and in collaboration and partnership with other programmes and movements.

In 2020, the Government of Nepal (GoN) launched the “Sanitary Pad Distribution” initiative, where the Education Ministry has targeted to reach 1.4 million girls from grades 6 to 12 in public schools across the country. For the current fiscal year 2080/81 BS (2023/24 AD), continuation of free sanitary pad distribution has been provisioned with a government budget of NRs. 1.42 billion, which has potential to benefit more than one million girls across the country.

A group of people wearing protective masks stand outside of a building, posing for the camera
The BBC team during an outreach activity

After the initiation of the free sanitary pad distribution program, BBC with the support of UNICEF conducted research to identify different methods in disposing sanitary pads in public schools in three ecological regions from three provinces of Nepal. The study titled “Study on Disposal Practices of Sanitary Pads” also explored the products preferred and used by girls, assessed the quality of the pads distributed by the government, and evaluated the availability of MHM facilities and girl-friendly toilets as defined during BBC’s research conducted with the support of AmplifyChange in 2018.

As a continuation of the movement for menstruation, BBC in collaboration with MHMPA, Right Here Right Now, Plan International and UNICEF developed two awareness raising audio-visual songs. The first song, “Para Para Chu”, explores the transformative impact of menstruation on a vibrant young girl, marking the shift from childhood to womanhood. It delves into the emotional struggle as societal restrictions during menstruation alter her relationships, challenging her self-worth and prompting introspective songwriting. The lyrics highlight the broader consequences on her mental health, education, freedom, and self-confidence, emphasising the need to address harmful practices in society.

The second song, soon to be released, is called “Khulera Kura Garau”. This means “Let’s talk about it openly” and serves as a sequel to the first song, highlighting the positive societal transformation following the challenges presented in the initial narrative. It primarily focuses on the girl’s family and community creating an environment that fosters her freedom of expression and enables her to reach her full potential. The song illustrates a shift in societal perception, moving away from menstruation being deemed taboo to recognizing it as a natural phenomenon. This transformation promotes equal opportunities and signifies progress towards a gender-equal world.

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