Tia, the unstoppable young girl
Support with menstrual hygiene management helps students in East Flores stay active during menstruation
“I love playing futsal so much,” says Tia, age 11, a 6th grade student at one of Primary School in Larantuka, Flores Timur District, East Nusa Tenggara. She flashes a wide grin – an expression she has rarely shown over the past year.
When Tia was in 5th grade, she was the first among her peers to get her period. Much to her surprise, she learned that she had to follow many rules and customs she never knew about before – she wasn’t allowed to wash her hair and she was often forbidden from going out. Most disappointingly for the avid futsal player, Tia was also not allowed to attend sport sessions at school and ball games at a village yard not far from her house.
Managing Menstruation with OkyApp
She had a welcome breakthrough in January 2023, when Tia’s school became part of the UNICEF- Menstrual Hygiene Management intervention programme supported by Kimberly-Clark Softex. Tia was introduced to “Oky”, the first period tracker created by girls for girls.
"My first-year menstrual experience was tiresome and depressing. But with this new diary, I can easily learn new things about menstrual issues and be less anxious.
Oky is a mobile app (age 10+) designed to help adolescent girls learn the facts about menstruation in engaging ways. Girls can track how their period affects their body and mood. With personalized prediction features, they can plan ahead and get tips to stay healthy, happy and active during their period.
OkyApp is accessible online and offline, which enables young girls like Tia to access it anytime and anywhere, including remote areas where internet access remains limited. For Tia’s mother, Annisa Masud, the application helps her to initiate discussion with her daughter on topics that many in their communities perceive as taboo.
Working together to support girls’ health
Since December 2019, KC Softex has been supporting UNICEF’s work to improve girls’ health and hygiene practices, including menstrual health management, through the #DariSaudari campaign. The focus of the partnership for 2022 – 2024 is menstrual health and hygiene education, targeting 10,000 young girls. The programme is also expected to reach 80,000 people including women, girls and vulnerable groups through the gender equality, disability and social inclusion (GEDSI) approach that is integrated into public WASH facilities and services in East Nusa Tenggara and Papua.
In East Flores district, the programme began in 2022 and aims to reach 50 schools and 2,700 students. Twenty-five integrated healthcare centers in the district have been engaged to reach more youth to use OkyApp.
Thus, the school management in where Tia studies are providing adequate and proper toilet facilities equally for girls and boys as well as sharing information about menstrual hygiene management with parents and guardians during parent-teacher meetings.
Nothing can stop me now
By participating in the programme and using the Oky app, Tia now understands that many things she heard about menstruation are just myths. She has become more confident as she can easily track her period and plan ahead for her football, futsal or volleyball matches. Best of all, she is now fully aware that having a period does not have to get in the way of her beloved sports.
“Now, I am happy that nothing can stop me from playing with this ball!”