16 July 2018

Analysis of menstrual hygiene practices in Nepal

About this report The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools (WinS) programme in Nepal is part of a global initiative of UNICEF; its development partners including: Department of Water Supply and Sewerage, Department of Local Infrastructure Development and Agricultural Roads, Department of Education, Nepal Red Cross Society, International Development Enterprises, Federation of Drinking Water and Sanitation Users Nepal and Nepal Fertility Care Center; and its development donors including: the Government of Finland, Department for International Development (DFID) and UNICEF National Committees. UNICEF Nepal has supported the implementation of WinS programme systematically since 2000 through the School Sanitation and Hygiene Education programme (SSHE). In 2006, UNICEF Nepal developed the school-led total sanitation approach which contributed to school and community sanitation. This approach has been replicated and implemented in many countries in Asia and Africa. The programme aims to provide a safe and healthy environment in schools so that all students can fully benefit from their education experience. The WinS is based on a child-rights approach that recognizes all children have the right to have access to safe drinking water, basic sanitation facilities, hand washing facilities (with soap) and are provided with the knowledge and skills that promote lifelong health and safe hygiene practices. The programme is based on a body of evidence demonstrating the health and educational benefits for children of hygiene promotion, adequate sanitation and safe water in schools. By providing access to adequate WASH facilities and training on hygiene practices, including menstrual hygiene management (MHM), WinS aims to reduce hygiene-related diseases, increase student attendance and learning achievements, contribute to gender equality and to the fostering of social inclusion and individual self-respect. Offering an alternative to the stigma and marginalization associated with menstruation, the programme seeks to empower all students and encourages the full participation of girls and female teachers in the education system, which in turn increases ABOUT THIS REPORT their learning and achievement opportunities and promotes gender equality. By providing accurate information, advice and support and with the introduction of practical and effective methods this should create a conducive environment for effectively managing menstruation at school, which in turn could significantly contribute to challenging prevailing negative social practices and customs girls and women continue to encounter. Globally, according to the 2016 mid-year global census1 44.7 per cent of the world’s female population is aged between 15-44 years old. In Nepal, according to the 2011 National Household Census, this percentage is slightly higher at 47.79 per cent2 of its national population. Most of these women and girls will menstruate regularly each month for between two – seven days. Menstruation is a natural part of the reproductive cycle. However, in many parts of the world and Nepal, it remains taboo, stigmatized, ‘hidden’ and rarely discussed. In worse case scenarios prevailing negative cultural practices that surround menstruation impact negatively on the lives, the health and safety of women and girls and reinforce gender inequalities and exclusion. As a result menstruation for many girls and women is not understood or managed effectively, which can have a negative effect on a girl’s well-being including her school attendance and learning opportunities. In Nepal the practice of chhaupadi, seclusion, continues, although it has been outlawed by the Nepal Supreme Court since 2005. This practice, which has recently has received global media attention, is slowly being challenged by girls, families and communities. However these practices are slowly being challenged, addressed and changed and the school setting is an ideal intervention setting for providing information and the impetuous for change opportunities.