In India, 1 in 5 girls drop out of school when they start their periods due to outdated cultural taboos and lack of sanitation.
There are over 355 million menstruating women and girls in India, of whom nearly all have faced barriers to a comfortable and dignified experience during menstruation. Incidents of a 13-year-old girl committing suicide on being reprimanded for staining her clothes and a bench in Tamil Nadu, or students being strip searched by teachers on finding a disposed pad in Punjab, are just some examples of what girls undergo across India daily. Low sensitivity and awareness among teachers as well as students about adolescence, puberty and menstruation creates shame, trauma, and helplessness in girls while they are menstruating. This, coupled with lack of privacy and adequacy of toilets, causes 23% of girls to drop out of school on attaining puberty.
Period First is our menstrual education programme that creates understanding among teachers, girls and boys about adolescence and puberty, removing the mystery and secrecy that shrouds menstruation. By providing the entire school community with the right facts and information, menstruating girls have the confidence to stay in school without stigma or discomfort.
How we Work
First we train teachers, both male and female, on menstrual health, hygiene and management and how to create a conducive environment for girls during menstruation in school.
Our trained teachers then educate their students, both the boys and the girls, about puberty, menstruation and dealing with periods in school. The first objective is to open a dialogue so that periods are no longer subject to ‘playground myths’ and that stigma, shame and humiliation are removed entirely. The second objective is to create a warm, supportive environment where girls can fulfil their potential
We distribute Safepads to all the school-girls we work with. Safepads are reusable sanitary pads designed with antimicrobial technology so that they are safe to be used even if washed in unclean water.
Should periods be kept a secret?
Graph above showing the before and after data gathered from 10,000 students around Tamil Nadu where Period First was taught. The study was kindly supported by Australia Aid.
To date, with the implementation of an ecosan toilet block at school and the teaching of Period First, we have seen 10,500 girls remain in or re-join schools!
With your generous donation you’re keeping a girl in school and empowering her with the ability to find a job and get herself out of poverty. Help us empower women as nobody’s life should stop when their period starts, period.