Saturday, April 6, 2019

Empowering Nepali Women by giving them access to Basic Hygiene

FALANGSAGU, NEPAL — During a development program initiative to help women in remote areas learn how to deal with their menstrual needs in a safe and eco-friendly way, a silent truth is foreseen: Being a Woman in Nepal is not easy.

Menstruation is a cornerstone of gender inequality in many cultures. This story follows those empowering women by giving them access to hygiene.

Women Periods: An insightful daily reminder of their condition and Status

In Nepal, Women suffer from many obstacles in their life.

We could start by stating the obvious. Talking about the fact they are under-represented in the decision making positions. For example, in the political world where 36.2% of women have a chair at the national assembly, and only 2.4 % are elected mayor of their town. However, 93% of the deputy mayors or vice-chairpersons are women. A perfect illustration on how she is considered in rural districts: The second most important person, making men the first.

But this story goes back on the problem they have to face even before starting a career or having a voice aged enough to be heard.

Indeed, as soon as they have their first menstruation, around 14 years old, they are forced to acknowledge a sad reality: Their basic biological needs are still seen through a traditional and patriarchal point of view, using menstruation to justify exclusion. Therefore considered a handicap not worth dealing with. This is how ancient belief in traditional societies build strong taboos what should be nowadays considered as what it always was: just a natural process.

Thus, being able to fulfill here basic hygiene needs becomes a challenging task leaving many victims behind. A deadly crisis, as a handful of women and children, has already been reported dead this year. The following issues recently revealed by Nepal in Data illustrate the dangers and the extent of exclusion. A position in which many women across the country have to go through once a month.

Here are the following alarming numbers: 2,9% are forced to follow the Chaupadi ritual during their menstruation period, 2,7% have to stay in animal sheds, 2.8% have to eat different food and 2.3% are absent from school. It basically means that in every classroom of Nepal they are at least one girl plunged in darkness, solitudes, anger, and shame during here periods. Forced to think that her body is a physical argument justifying the drastic treatment she will go through during the rest of her life.

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Sanitary pads distribution programs

Thankfully, today it is a situation that is slowly evolving in a positive way.

Many NGO’s, foreign visitors, and local social worker put in a lot of effort to help women, especially in remote areas, to learn they don’t have to be ashamed of who they are. On the contrary, they need to celebrate it, to talk about it, in order to learn more about the tools put in their disposition so they can have access to a normal life.

People like Raj, Alize, and Kevin, lead them on this road towards gender equity. A fragile path, still under construction.

Last month the two foreigners and the Nepali guide collected 2 000 thousand dollars to buy toothbrushes, soap, panties, and reusable sanitary pads. They then took the road to Falangsu a small village in the Sindhupalchok district. Where they spent a whole week going in 8 different communities, and 7 different schools. In which no less than 1,350 children were given dental hygiene sets and 650 women were given reusable sanitary pads.

And it was not just about giving. They also explained to them why and how to use these pads. Because hygiene is above all good habits before being products.

They also put in place a “leadership program” to give responsibility among the community and, on longterm, independence. The idea is to follow up on the use of these sanitary packs. Observe if there are used properly, and if not, understand why. And hopefully, in a few years, these women will not have to wait for outside help in order to take care of their menstruations properly. But will be able to openly talk about their issues and make sure the local store is equipped to help them.

More information soon on: NTM Digital TV (Youtube) 

The post Empowering Nepali Women by giving them access to Basic Hygiene appeared first on News, sport and opinion from the Kathmandu Tribune's global edition.


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