Ranjan Bharadwaj, KATHMANDU: Despite all the controversies, Kanchana Jha is very much thankful to the President Bidya Devi Bhandari who presented Nepal government’s policies and programmes on Friday . 38 years Kanchana who has been working for menstural hygiene in different districts of province number 2 says” This is the first time when the word free sanitary pad is included in government’s policies and programmes”.
While the opposition party members and common people are criticizing President’s presentation for using the word Mero Sarkar(my government, a word used by the Nepalese kings in past), nepalese women are happy as their problem is to some extent listed in policies and programmes. Presenting the policies and programmes in joint session of Federal Parliament President Bhandari said that the government will provide free sanitary pad to community school girls .This is not enough but can be considered as good start says, kanchana.
In Nepal,an estimated 290,000 women and adolescent girls menstruate everyday . But during the period most of them have to face several restrictions . They have to stay in different room, bath in separate place, eat different food, especially in western Nepal they have to stay in chhaugoth( small hut made for the women to stay during period), they have to avoid social gathering . They are considered as unclean and discussion on menstural peroid is called shameful.The school girls are most effected as they have to leave the class due to lack of changing room or proper toilet. Dr Ankita Agrawal (officer at Gandhi International Mission Nepal) who has been working for menstural hygiene says many adolescent girls in Nepal lack hygienic sanitary materials and disposal options . They don’t have access to a private place to change sanitary cloths or pads, and clean water to wash their hands and bodies as a result they have to suffer from many reproductive diseases . Dr Agrawal urges that government should provide sanitary pad to every girls and women not only to community school girls.
– Three out of four adolescent girls use re-usable cloths during period.
– Most of the girls use unhygienic ways, including using dirty rags, bark, and leaves.
– Reaserch shows use of sanitary pads among adolescent girls in urban areas is higher in comparison to the rural areas (50% in urban vs. 19% in rural),
– Use of old pieces of cloth is higher among rural (35%) than urban (14%) adolescent girls.
–Around 40 to 60% of adolescent girls dry their re-usable pads in direct sunlight outside the home.
Sanitary pad is comparatively expensive in Nepal. One packet of sanitary pad cost around 65 rs and a girl or woman needs at least one and half packet sanitary pad in a month . That means a woman or a girl has to spend at least 100 rs (1 $) per month for sanitary pad which is not easy for common school girls here as a result most of the girls of rural areas do not attend class during period . If sanitary pad is given free to school girls, the number of girls in schools will increase says Dr Agrawal.
Though Menstruation is a normal part of life, yet many women and adolescent girls face many obstacles to healthy menstrual hygiene practice in Nepal. They do not have access to education on menstrual health nor they are able to manage menstrual hygiene effectively. If the government implements free sanitary pad policy properly, the country can save huge amount of money, which nowadays spent on medicine says Engineer Promisha Mishra, who has been providing training to school girl to make sanitary pad themselves. She further says that the students should be given knowledge to manage the used sanitary pad properly otherwise it will creat enviorment problem in coming days.
Most of the developing countries in world have neglected the importance of menstrual hygiene . In this context, whatever government of Nepal has done is praiseworthy.
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