The Making Schools Menstrual Friendly initiative was inspired by Azadi – an impact venture with an aim to make menstruation a non-issue in India. While working on the Swabhiman program, we learned that menstruation is one of the major factors causing girls to drop out of schools. In 2011, a study conducted by A.C. Nielsen and Plan established that 23% girls are at the risk of dropping out of schools at the onset of menarche. The Making Schools Menstrual Friendly initiative attempts to change this situation as part of Milaan’s Outreach objective to identify barriers to education for adolescent girls, and then work towards enhancing their experience in schools. The initiative investigates, understands and enables the societal, environmental, interpersonal, and biological factors that aid school girls in adequately managing menstruation.
The Making Schools Menstrual Friendly initiative maps infrastructural deficiencies and the level of awareness in the public schools of Uttar Pradesh to take necessary action and fill critical gaps with the help of relevant stakeholders. Research, integrated communication strategy and impact assessment are the three major components of this initiative. The initiative also focuses on enabling the rightful space for adolescent girls to engage in a healthy conversation on several aspects of menstruation and menstrual hygiene management (MHM).
Currently, this initiative is underway in 25 public schools in the district of Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh, in partnership with UNICEF and the Department of Panchayati Raj.