Now they talk about 'periods'

Now they talk about
Highlights

It is a natural biological process but for many girls it is hard to break the silence and talk about periods and concerns associated with the monthly cycle.

It is a natural biological process but for many girls it is hard to break the silence and talk about periods and concerns associated with the monthly cycle.

Changing this perception among adolescent girls, Vandana Sreepada, Assistant Professor in GITAM School of Architecture (GSA) and programme officer of the institution's NSS unit 14, reaches out to rural communities along with an army of NSS volunteers to make girls understand the importance of maintaining menstrual hygiene and help break the stigma, running educational sessions on the much hushed-up topic.

From presenting an audio-video visual on maintaining menstrual hygiene to allowing girls to express their concerns through a slip-exchange game and involving them in an interactive session, 'Sparsh' initiated by Vandana as a part of the NSS special camp is centred on shattering the myths surrounding menstruation and help girls share their untold stories on periods.

"Initially, it was a challenge for us to make them loosen up as most of them come from conservative families. But once we make them feel comfortable, they come forward to discuss periods.

The best part of the project is that they initiate discussions at home and with friends which they have never done till now," she observes.

Perhaps, that is the major transformation Sparsh aims to bring in by visiting schools and building awareness on menstrual hygiene management among girls studying Classes VII to X.

Vandana finds that the 'slip-exchange' game worked well among girls as many of them ask questions like why am I not allowed to enter a puja room during periods?

Where do we dump used sanitary pads in school? Why do I get stomach pain during the monthly cycle? "Teachers find that the absenteeism is high among girls as many prefer staying indoors for the discomfort they have to put up with during menstruation.

It is also often embarrassing for many to change napkins in school washrooms and hence stay at home for a day or two," elaborates Vandana, who is supported by the faculty members of GSA and NSS coordinator G. Swamy to take the project forward.

On the occasion of the World Menstrual Hygiene Day observed on May 28, she says that Sparsh is a continuous endeavour of NSS volunteers who have so far covered 350 girls residing in rural areas, including Anandapuram and Boddapalem.

"Next, we are planning to visit a government school every month as the drive helps in dissuading girls from using rags and cloths which often exposes them to an increased risk of infections," she concludes.

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