Empowering girls to take control of their periods during the pandemic
In Papua, UNICEF is partnering with local influencers to promote access to information on menstrual health and hygiene.
As the COVID-19 pandemic brings new challenges to everyday life, many girls and women are being affected in a personal and often unspoken way: their ability to manage their menstrual hygiene and health.
In a UNICEF U-Report poll conducted with over 5,800 female respondents between April and May 2020, one in six said they experienced some difficulty handling their menstruation during the pandemic. More than half (55 per cent) reported that their menstruation cycle had become irregular.
According to the poll, girls and women reported a need for reliable information to manage their menstruation, with a majority of respondents (50 per cent) saying they preferred to find information via the Internet.
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a lack of adequate information and resources caused stigma, unfriendly behaviour, teasing, and misconceptions about menstruation,” said Vania Santoso, UNICEF Indonesia Communication Officer. “The results from the U-Report poll showed that girls and women still need to access this information but prefer a way to obtain it privately online.”
To help adolescent girls take control of their periods and their lives in fun and engaging ways, UNICEF introduced Oky, a period tracker application for mobile phones. With Oky, adolescent girls can track how their period affects their body and mood so they can better understand their own body. Oky personalizes predictions so adolescent girls can plan ahead and learn the facts with reliable information and tips to stay healthy and happy.
With support from Kimberly-Clark Softex, UNICEF worked with NGO partners SNV, GIZ Fit for Schools, Lemina and Unimuda to initiate a series of activities to promote the Oky app among women and girls in Papua. As part of this initiative, UNICEF partnered with Jeni Karay, a well-known Papuan influencer who uses social media to educate young people and the wider community about social issues.
For Jeni, the topic of menstruation is deeply personal. She remembers when she had her first period and how cultural taboos made it impossible for her seek support.
“I was in Junior Secondary School at the time, and I couldn’t talk about it with my parents,” she recalled. “I felt menstruation was a shameful thing to talk about, even with my friends and family.”
As in Jeni’s case, menstruation is often never discussed by girls in Papua. A 2017 Health and Demographic Survey found that one in five girls never talk about the topic before they get their first menses. This rate is higher in rural areas, including in eastern parts of Indonesia like Papua Province.
When UNICEF informed Jeni about Oky, she decided to try the app and was impressed with its features. She began to regularly promote Oky to her followers on social media and encouraged young people in Papua – including boys – to download the app.
“This app is like our personal trustworthy assistant, and having a personal assistant is a luxury,” Jeni said. “Please download this cool app if you want to be empowered.”
Jeni’s videos featuring the Oky app on her Instagram account have received more than 5,000 views. While the initiative concluded in October 2020, she still continues to actively promote Oky on social media. Jeni’s commitment to ensuring that girls know more about their health goes beyond her work as an influencer.
“Having Oky in the hands of Papuan girls will give them access to a trustworthy source of information on menstruation,” she said. “Giving trustworthy information to Papuan girls is part of my personal mission to empower them.”
Watch how Jeni is promoting Oky
Oky is a mobile app that helps girls and women to feel more confident about their period and make it a more enjoyable experience! Download Oky to track your menstrual cycle and get important menstrual hygiene information to know your body better.
Download Oky through this link: http://bit.ly/unduhoky