Dept of Women Studies, Bharathidasan University, Trichy.
The Department of Women's Studies [DWS] of the Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli established in November 2004 with UGC funding to promote gender equality in all spheres of society which created a platform for various NGOs working on MHM to come together and helped to create MHMC. DWS is a key partner in the MHMC. The academic background the activities of the Department include teaching, research, training, extension, documentation, publication, conduct of seminars and workshops, advocacy, networking and coordination. On the basis of the studies conducted the Department has been formulating theories and making recommendations for implementation. Based on the performance of the Department of the first three years the UGC elevated the Centre to the Department status in Feb. 2007. Dr.N.Manimekalai has been the head of the Dept. for the past five years.
The Department conducted a study on MHM practices among women and college students in 2007 and based on the findings organized workshops and awareness programs. In collaboration with Women Entrepreneurs of Tamil Nadu(WEAT) and NABARD it organized a five day ToT on Sanitary napkin production for thirty selected women.
The Department with the support of UNICEF Chennai had organized three levels of Workshops during 2009-10, in enhancing MHM practices among adolescent girls and women. The participants in the workshops included SHG members, micro women entrepreneurs, trainers and producers of low cost hygienic sanitary napkins, NGOs working in the field of MHM and sanitary napkin production, school teachers, Doctors, producers of machinery, suppliers of raw material etc. The issues and problems faced by SHG women in producing and marketing the napkins and disseminating the MHM messages to school students, women in various parts of the State etc. were discussed in detail. The workshops brought out clearly the challenges faced in the field starting from breaking the culture of silence on the subject to production, marketing and safe disposal of the used sanitary pads. In the light of the findings and recommendations of the workshops two significant results emerged.
- 1) Trichy Declaration on MHM
- 2) Formation of MHMC, a network of the key stake holders to promote MHM in a holistic and integrated manner.
TRICHY DECLARATION : is a 10 point document drafted carefully after detailed discussions at various levels with various stakeholders. The declaration contains various clauses to enhance the MHM to the women and girls. 27th November was declared as International Female Hygiene Day.
A.School Awareness Program on Menstrual Hygiene Management :
Under the auspices of the MHMC, the Dept. of Women's Studies in collaboration with the Trichy Obstetrics and Gynecologists Society [TRIOGS] has been organizing awareness programs in schools in Trichy at regular intervals on the physiological, psychological aspects of Menstruation, the socio cultural taboos and issues related to MHM etc.The installation of vending machines to make available SNs to the students and incinerators for hygienic and safe disposal of Sanitary pads were emphasized during the programs.
Awareness program on MHM was given to SHG women, School and College Students, women in slums on better MHM practices.
A questionnaire is administered during the awareness programmes on the Knowledge, Attitude and Practices [KAP] on menstruation.
B.ToT for master trainers on MHM and creation of State Wide 80 Master Trainers on MHM
When the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India announced a pilot project to supply sanitary napkins to adolescent girls in rural areas at a subsidized rate on a pilot basis in 150 districts in the country, the need for trained personnel for MHM related work was realized by the University. In Tamil Nadu the ten districts selected were Namakkal, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Kanyakumari, Sivagangai, Karur, Tanjore, Nilgiris, Madurai and Tiruchirapalli, Training of Trainer [ToT] was conducted in two batches - Chennai (13.10.2010- 16.10.2010) and Trichy (23-26.11.2010) with the support of UNICEF and 80 master trainers were trained.
So far in nine pilot districts 26 ToTs have organized 120 awareness programs in coordination with the Line Departments including education, social welfare and public health, Women Development etc.
C.MHM Manual Development Workshop
Realizing that an exclusive manual on MHM is required to sustain the initiatives of MHM, a two day Manual Development Workshop was conducted on 19.8.10 & 20.8.10 inviting various stakeholders concerned including teachers, students from schools and colleges both from rural and urban areas, differently abled girls, VHNs, parents, care givers, Health Department Officials, and experts as facilitators to conduct the program including manual writers, gender experts, doctors, Senior health trainers etc. Training Manual both in Tamil and in English were produced and submitted to UNICEF for publication.
D.Hand Book on MHM
A handbook in Tamil on MHM in an interactive mode has been published by the Department for adolescent girls to serve as a guide to explain the physical and psychological changes etc. connected with MHM. The handbook would enable the girls to understand science of menstruation and clear the doubts and to attend the school without absenteeism and expected to improve the retention ratio of girls. The Vice Chancellor, Dr. K.Meena, Patron of the MHMC released the Hand Book on 09.11.2010.
E. MHM Training in Krishnagiri Schools
Krishnagiri district is the focus district of UNICEF where several health and hygiene programs were organized. From November 10th to 25th the master trainers organized awareness programs in 172 schools in the district. In all schools Menstrual Hygiene Management Clubs(MHMC) were formed with five members consisting of the head of the school as president, a teacher as secretary and three students as members. Reading and training materials were distributed to the teachers.
The MHMC and the Department jointly organized various Awareness Generating Competitions on Menstrual Hygiene for School and College Students on 9.12.2010. About 100 students participated in the competitions such as slogans, Street Plays, Poems, real life incidents, short stories, Essays and Paintings etc. Dr. K. Meena, Vice Chancellor distributed the prizes for the participants. The slogans and the select Essays will be published.
G.MHM integration into NSS :
The patron of MHMC and Vice Chancellor has included MHM awareness as a component in all NSS programs to be organized in the affiliated colleges in the University. A one day awareness programme for Women NSS officers is proposed by the Patron and will be conducted shortly.
Documentary Film on Menstrual Practices "AGARAM, has been developed portraying the unhygienic and unscientific and superstitious way of handing menstruation in Agaram village in Perambalur district where women, maternal mothers and adolescent girls are socially excluded during menstruation in the remote and separate shelter arranged for staying. It was screened during the International Film Festival at Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Youth Development which was well received for taking up such a bold issue.
Workshop on "Disposal and reusable napkins and proper disposal techniques"
Two day Workshop was organized by MHMC and the department focusing on the critical issue of disposal of used sanitary pads funded by UNICEF. (AVAG) Auroville had presented the possibility of piloting reusable napkins. The workshop had focused discussions on the disposal of used napkins techniques by participants from State and National level. The pertinent Issues of cost of incinerators, pre-fabricated, low cost, electronic and concrete incinerators. The Reusable napkins and its issues were extensively discussed and possible further work had been planned to experiment.