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Free as a Bird

Sabita Pahari, 14, is a seventh grader at Kitini Higher Secondary School in Badikhel, Godawari Municipality.  Pahari, a regular student, class-topper, and an active member of the school-based child club enthusiastically participates in the majority of the extracurricular activities held at the school.

Like many schools in Nepal, her school lacked basic menstrual hygiene management (MHM) products and menstruation used to be the most significant social stressor and a barrier to schooling for girls at her school. On MHM practices at her school in the recent past, Sabita commented, “you know, I would skip the classes during periods and just stayed home. It bleeds, leaks and aches and sanitation at the school is not so good …and you do not want to embarrass yourself “

There would be no painkillers at her school. If Sabita and her girlfriends had menstrual cramps, they would skip classes and rush home, while her male classmates continued their classes undisturbed. For a top-ranking student like Sabita, even a day away from school was a huge loss.

In 2017, menstrual hygiene kits were distributed at 18 schools in Kathmandu and Lalitpur districts including Sabita’s. The kit contained hand towel, hand-wash liquid, sterile cotton gauze, toilet disinfectants, sanitary pads, and medicines.

Managing periods for around 3200 adolescent girls is no more a problem. Neither they have to forgo their classes and remain at home during their periods. Now, students and teachers are aware of the importance of good menstrual hygiene management practices, thanks to the awareness-raising program organized by GNI Nepal.

Sabita remarked, “Currently, many girls at our school including me have started using the MHM kit during our periods. Now, we get sanitary pad anytime we need it. So, attending the classes or participating in any event organized at the school is nor more a discomfort.

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