How my district became first in Bihar to have Menstrual Hygiene Management plan

Women in rural Bihar should be able to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, the MHM plan is the first step, says Purnea DM.

On 8 March 2022, we launched an action plan for Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM), becoming the first district in Bihar to do so. NITI Aayog has also approved our proposal for MHM-friendly toilets and awareness kits for 200 government high schools. We have also roped in some NGOs and UNICEF.

In early April 2021, the district administration started the first MHM Plan in Kasba block as a pilot project with the help of UNICEF Bihar and Nav Astitva Foundation. We convinced Niti Aayog about the vast impact of the plan and how it could help our women students from dropping out of school after they attain puberty.

In July 2021, we held a convergent meeting with all related stakeholders. Jeevika (Women SHG workforce) was identified to play the role of nodal agency for this project. We have roped in departments like education, social welfare, the Integrated Child Development Scheme, and health to contribute significantly to the cause.

Around 50 master trainers were called in to train the female workforce in 14 blocks. We organised a three-day training session for 133 jeevika cadres. They further communicated the necessary information about MHM to 22,000 jeevika didis and 50,000 adolescent girls. Twenty-five teachers were identified as nodal persons to make the girls aware of MHM. Fifty girls from Meena Manch were trained for the MHM awareness programme. This was the first step towards creating a female task force that would monitor facilities like clean toilets, availability of water, soap, dustbin, sanitary pads, etc.

Furthermore, with the help of UNICEF and Nav Astitva Foundation, the district administration made available a menstrual hygiene kit of 12 sanitary pads, two undergarments, one towel, one V-wash, and a booklet on menstrual education for just Rs 350.

But this is just the beginning and we have a long way to go.

An implementation framework for increasing access to information, products and female-friendly wash and waste management solutions is proposed in the action plan. It is proposed to make and work upon a two- to three-years-long MHM action plan with specific support and capacity building on the project to select frontline workers of at least five departments — health, education, ICDS, social welfare, and jeevika. This action plan would strengthen the entire rural women and adolescents in the community on menstrual hygiene management and would ultimately accomplish the menstrual hygiene mission.

This is one of the first steps to enable women in rural Bihar to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.

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