Raleigh Expedition volunteer Elo shares how her volunteer team are combatting menstruation taboos through their pad-making workshops.
“Across many rural areas of Nepal, there is an ever so apparent taboo around menstruation. Not only is it a contentious topic, but many people in rural areas can be uneducated about menstrual hygiene and the health risks that it holds. When our volunteer team arrived in the community of Jaljale, it quickly became clear that some females here are vulnerable during this period. So, as a team, we set out to tackle the issue.”
Menstruation taboos can be common in different areas of Nepal. In some caste systems, when a woman is menstruating, she has to isolate in a goat shed or outhouse for the duration of their period, which puts them at risk from animals, infections and other dangers. While that is not the belief in Jaljale community, through research with local women the team learned that some women did not see the importance of using clean materials during menstruation, which could put them at risk of illnesses later on. So as a team they planned a pad-making workshop and menstrual hygiene informational presentation to engage with the women on both a practical and educational level.
“Our pad-making and menstrual hygiene presentation planning came together quickly. We created pad templates and simple instructions for the women to use. The pads are made of soft cloth that is affordable, easily accessible in the community, environmentally friendly and extremely comfortable. They can also be very pretty!”
“We began by running through the health risks of poor hygiene and some overall advice on how to prevent infection. They understood the cutting and sewing measurements almost instantly, and within minutes we had beautiful pad-looking creations. The room was filled with smiles and a deeper understanding of just how important this topic is.”
Sustainability is a key part of Expedition projects and initiatives. So as a team, the volunteers recognised that the most important way to keeping this knowledge in this community was by encouraging mothers to share their learnings with their daughters, so that the knowledge could pass on through the generations.
“Do I think we made a difference to these women’s lives after this presentation? Yes. I do. And they may continue to teach these skills to generations to come. Together, women and men can eliminate the taboo around menstruation in Nepal, and lead healthy, happy lifestyles in the near future.”