Project Location: Dacope Upazilla, Bangladesh
Executive Partner: RUPSA, Khulna
Project Duration: 3 months first project
6 months second project
Huge taboos and superstitions on menstruation. Extremely conservative society.
High level of poverty and low education level (<30%).
97% women are not using sanitary napkins. Cloths or rags from old saris are commonly used.
Menstruation cloths are not dried properly. Always hide from other family members.
Limited access to sanitary facilities (no nearby market is available in their reach).
Men are very much uncommon to buy sanitary items for women from market / city. It is also very unusual for women to go market alone.
Female / Male: 46% / 54%
Literacy Rate: 38%
Livelihood: Agriculture and Fisheries
MHI Project 2
Educational initiative and establishment of a supply structure to promote menstrual hygiene in Banishanta, Bangladesh
Project area: Dacope, Bangladesh
Project start: 01.04.2019
Duration: 6 months
Beneficiaries: expected 3,800 women and girls, actual 9.141 women and girls
Total costs: 15,082.61 EUR
Funding: 13,500 EUR, remaining amount covered by donations
The overall objective of the project was to improve the health care of poor women and girls in the project area through a sustainable supply of hygiene products and the dissemination of basic knowledge on menstrual hygiene.
The following points were implemented for this purpose:
1. Production and marketing of reusable sanitary towels
2. Training and educational workshops to raise awareness
3. "World Menstrual Hygiene Day" on 28.05.2019
4. Health Camps
Während des Projektzeitraums haben wir aufgrund unserer Erfahrungen festgestellt, dass die Gesamtnachfrage nach wiederverwendbaren Binden niedriger ist, als wir vor Projektbeginn erwartet hatten. Es wurde auch festgestellt, dass der Großteil der Nachfrage nach wiederverwendbaren Binden von Schülerinnen aus einkommensschwachen Gruppen in der Stadt Khulna kommt, obwohl wir große Anstrengungen unternommen haben, um auch Dorffrauen für unsere Binden zu begeistern. RUPSA möchte daher das Projekt unter Berücksichtigung aller auf den Erfahrungen der letzten sechs Monate beruhenden Probleme mit den folgenden Maßnahmen und dem folgenden Aktionsplan fortsetzen:
die Werbemaßnahmen für unsere DESHIPAD-Binden werden weiter fortgesetzt, auch online
die Produktion der Binden wird an den entsprechenden Bedarf angepasst
der subventionierte Preis für die Binden bleibt bis Ende 2019 bestehen und wird danach schrittweise angepasst, um die Betriebs- und Verwaltungskosten zu decken
MHI Project 1
Project start: 05.03.2018
Duration: 3 months
Beneficiaries: 250 women age 12 to 45 years
We conducted a first project to learn about possible obstacles and local factors of menstrual hygiene management. As part of the MHI initiative, menstrual sanitary products were provided to the target group women and girls for the first three months by ASCEND through the local partner RUPSA. A multi-pronged training program was included to ensure women's capacity building, knowledge exchange on hygiene education and bridge with the local stakeholders. Afterwards a self-reliant supply and storage mechanism was established in the locality to ensure availability of menstrual sanitary products. The first project focused on the village Banishanta with the total costs of about 834€, resulting in a per-capita-cost of 3,34€ per person.
Insights in the first project
The project is planned with a multi-pronged behavioral and awareness raising communication approach for managing menstrual hygiene leading to women capacity building, knowledge exchange on hygiene education and bridge with the local stakeholders.
As menstruation is a neglected topic, women and girls in the project area do not speak out about the topic and are not involved in decision-making – for example, household decisions to build a toilet or spend money on sanitary pads. The result is a lack of facilities and services, e.g. a lack of separate toilets for girls at schools. It also results in a lack of social support and the culture of fear, shame, embarrassment and silence, completing the circle of neglect. This pilot initiative is targeted to break the ultimate circle of the silence through awareness raising, capacity building and knowledge exchange on menstrual hygiene management.
In West Banishanta Village, menstruation taboos lead to serious restrictions on the daily activities of menstruating women and girls; in many, the stigma means that they cannot discuss menstrual hygiene freely. To improve the lives of women and girls, ASCEND (and RUPSA) plans to break the silence and dispel the stigma and shame by engaging with communities through participatory channels such as community theater, schools, religious interactions, and interactive training.
Due to the stigma and silence surrounding this issue, women and girls, and men and boys, often know very little about menstruation and menstrual hygiene. To address this critical gap, ASCEND (and RUPSA) intends to promote menstrual hygiene education through community platforms such as schools, communities, as well as in healthcare facilities. The targeted audiences could range from local government officials, traditional leaders, and community health workers who can help to reinforce important messages on menstrual hygiene throughout the community.
In West Banishanta, women and girls do not have access to quality and hygienic menstrual hygiene products. With this project, ASCEND wants to ensure the availability, affordability and range of menstrual hygiene products by partnering with NGO RUPSA, social enterprises and the local stakeholders. After the pilot phase, ASCEND intends to provide seed funding through partner organization in Bangladesh to help establish menstrual sanitary marts, including purchasing the materials needed to produce sanitary pads, and stocking the marts with basic menstrual hygienic supplies.
Women and girls require safe, private sanitation facilities at home, at school and at work so that they can discreetly and comfortably go to the bathroom and/or change their menstrual hygiene materials. Key aspects targeted to address through this project include:
access to water and/or hand washing in or near the facility;
ability to lock the latrine from the inside;
discreet disposal (i.e. trash cans, trash chutes, etc.);
a place to hang reusable menstrual pads to dry.
In Bangladesh, participation of menstruating women and girls in society is limited by cultural beliefs and social norms. In addition, limited access to clean water, proper sanitation and sanitary napkins makes it difficult for women to manage their menstruation hygienically. As a result, many (young) women in Bangladesh face considerable physical and social challenges during their menstrual period. In Bangladesh, 95% of women do not use sanitary napkins. They use old rags, which are neither comfortable nor hygienic, and which lead to illness and inability to work.
A recent UNICEF survey showed how Bangladeshi women manage their menstruation and found that at least one third of women hide their menstrual rags in dirty places. One in three girls fail to change their cloths regularly or wash them with soap or detergent after use. Only half of the women dry their rags in the sun in the open air - which is a prerequisite for killing dangerous bacteria and germs. This inadequate management of menstrual hygiene leads to widespread vaginal and urinary tract infections.
In addition, women and girls in poor families tend not to seek medical help, even in cases of serious infections. A 2014 population survey in Bangladesh on health revealed that more than half of the women do not seek medical treatment until their husbands allow them to do so. Even if the husband decides that his wife or daughter needs medical care, a third of the women cannot travel to a hospital or health centre on their own.
Furthermore, there are still considerable taboos and inhibitions about women's health problems in society. Women who suffer from vaginal infections therefore rarely receive medical treatment. In order to reduce and prevent such health risks, comprehensive information and education campaigns are of fundamental importance, especially among poorer and less educated families in Bangladesh's rural regions, where taboos and inhibition thresholds are strongest.
In the pilot phase village inhabitants will be supplied with hygienic sanitary napkins. During the first two months of the project, the napkins will be distributed free of charge to the village women in reproductive age for training, comfort-ability check and capacity building. The material costs in the pilot phase thus include sanitary napkins for two months as well as transport costs from the next town to the village.
Training and capacity building
The training and dissemination are carried out by ASCEND volunteers accompanied by RUPSA. Training costs are low and comprise outlays for training documents, promotional banners and food costs during the campaigns.
These costs include transport costs for our helpers and organization and approval costs for the execution of the project.