At this workshop we:
For the several months, Project Stree had been preparing to organize a workshop for girls to raise awareness of menstrual health and proper hygiene. After months of planning, the big day was finally here. We visited a small government school called Vadadla Primary School. In India, a government school is a primary or secondary school that allows underprivileged children to attend free to charge.
It was important to us that we work with underprivileged girls who may never receive this kind of vital education due to the cultural stigma around menstruation. As we entered the classroom where the workshop was scheduled, we were greeted by lots of warm smiles and excited giggles. We were touched to see the 150 girls spanning from sixth to eighth grade, eagerly waiting to see what we had planned for them.
In addition to teaching the girls about menstrual cycle and hormonal changes during puberty, we also demonstrated how to properly utilize and dispose of sanitary products like pads and tampons. We spoke with the girls about healthy hygiene habits that can reduce the risk of reproductive disease. After the informative presentation, the girls got into smaller groups of five and received specific scenarios related to menstrual health that they might face in school or at home. Their task was to work together and come up with a solution to the various situations.
One of the questions asked the girls what they would do if they got their period in the middle of the school day. Many of the girls stated that they would immediately go home and remain confined within the home for the duration of their period. This was a learning moment for the Project Stree team-- we all took a pause and realized the extent to which such mentalities are ingrained into these girls' upbringings. This moment reminded us why our work is so necessary, and why all of your support is so greatly appreciated. In learning that this attitude of school absences during menstruation was so natural for these girls, we took some time to emphasize the importance of a proper education. After the conversation, one girl suggested that they should carry pads in their backpacks at all times to avoid leaving school. We further stressed this solution to all the girls in the workshop. After a rewarding day of education and empowerment, we gifted each girl with two packs of Anand biodegradable sanitary pads, stickers, and buttons. Their gifts also included a small booklets written in Gujarati, describing the menstrual cycle and at-home remedies for cramps and other menstruation-related pains. The booklet also included a period tracker to help the girls manage their periods on a month to month basis. We hope these small tokens serve as reminder for the girls to take charge for their feminine hygiene.
Before wrapping up, we asked the girls to share one new thing they learned from the workshop. At the beginning of the workshop, many of the girls held a false belief that they get their periods from eating "spicy foods", which is common misconception held by women in South Asia. However, they were now able to describe the menstrual cycle and how this normal bodily process leads to monthly periods.
Many of the girls were also able to recall numerous simple remedies they can utilize the relive pain and aches during that time of the month to prevent them from missing school. Lastly, the girls emphasized the importance of having each other's backs and supporting one another.
Again, we at Project Stree cannot stress enough how humbled we are by your support. Thank you for joining us on this journey and being part of our story. This workshop left us not only with a plethora of memories, but a renewed sense of purpose. Please know that your efforts and your contributions continue to have a direct impact on the lives of these beautiful young girls.
Project Stree Team