Campaign Update

Menstrual hygiene education reaches adolescent girls and mothers in tribal communities in Manipur's Tamenglong

Urmila Chanam
Posted May 23, 2018 from India
Mothers of the tribal community in Tamenglong stand for education on menstruation after receiving training in the church on Mother's Day 13 May 2018
A large turn out of mothers in the training on menstrual hygiene conducted in the church (1/1)

Breaking the Silence 2018 Manipur Campaign Updates:

The campaign aims to raise awareness on the biology of menstruation among girls and women, boys and men and the community so a deeper understanding of our bodies and its natural phenomenon can end the myths, taboos and stigma revolving around menstruation in our society in India and other countries. From 9th May to 31st May 2018, the effort has been to conduct sensitization programs in the hill districts of Noney,Tamenglong and Ukhrul in northeastern state of India, Manipur which has experienced decades of armed conflict, corruption, unemployment, poor health facilities and infrastructure, HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and high mortality from these factors. I share the updates from the field as we go on.

13 May 2018 Tamenglong district, Manipur(India)

Breaking the Silence, a campaign to end myths, taboos and stigma around menstruation and build a supportive home, school, workplace and community reached Tamenglong yesterday from Noney which was the first stop. The team met the Deputy Commissioner, Shri Armstrong Pamei, IAS and Chief Medical Officer, Dr.Chambo Gonmei to discuss the directives, provision and scope of what can be done at district level be it enhancing availability and accessibility of sanitary pads, production of sanitary pads,installing disposal mechanisms and so on.

Today the Tamenglong District Mass Awareness Programme on Menstrual Hygiene Management was conducted in Taudai Fellowship Center, a branch fellowship of Dailong Baptist Church,Tamenglong District Headquarters for women and girls of the congregation. Reverend,P.R Athana, Pastor welcomed the initiative to raise awareness on such a taboo topic and extended full support to the program. A technical session on Menstrual Hygienic Management (MHM) was facilitated by Urmila Chanam, Founder/CEO, Breaking the Silence where the key messages were menstrual blood is not impure, menstruation is not a disease,its a normal phenomenon, girls and women need support to manage their menstruation hygienically education on menstruation and best hygiene practices is needed in schools.More than 100 persons including girls and women of Tamenglong town attended the valuable awareness program which also had a high interaction with the participants.The host fellowship lauded the campaign team for their valuable services .Ms.Silvia Rimai(Asistant) of Ukhrul District and Mr.Agui Kamei(Coordinator of Tamenglong and Noney Districts) led interaction during the program and spoke about the need for citizen movement in development and health not just relying on the government for everything.Sanitary pads were distributed free of cost to the participants and pamphlets carrying the ABC of menstrual hygiene were distributed. Tomorrow the team will go for field work to assess Water, Sanitation and Hygiene indicators with an aim to understand the Menstrual Hygiene needs of girls and women in the district.

14 May 2018, Tamenglong district, Manipur( India)

A training was conducted for adolescent girls stydying in class 8 to 10 at the Tamenglong Higher Secondary School situated in Apollo Bazar in Tamenglong as part of the District Mass Awareness Program on Menstrual Hygiene Management today 14 May 2018.This is the second mass awareness program conducted in Tamenglong district by Breaking the Silence Campaign. Yesterday the training was held for mothers and women in the Taudai Fellowship Center, a branch fellowship of Dailong Baptist Church,Tamenglong District Headquarters.

The school Principal, Shri K.C Huduan shared how much this kind of sensitization was needed for school girls in this part of the state. Breaking the Silence Campaign donated sanitary pads to the school for use by school students in emergency. This school is a government school with 416 students and 276 girls. The school has 4 toilets for girls and 4 toilets for boys which is a good infrastructure to meet the sanitation and hygiene needs of students.Due to lack of government water supply it compensates by rain water harvesting. The school teachers shared that often menstruating girls request for leave due to some inconvenience or want to rest at home and spoke of some of the emergencies experienced by students during school time. Almost all the girls said they use sanitary pads.

It is interesting to note that the Science book of class 10 under the Manipur State Board does not explain reproduction well and fails to introduce menstruation or even body changes that take place in the body of girls in their adolescence. Without education on menstruation, reproductive system of women( and men), sexual health and menstrual hygiene are not possible in Manipur.In class 8 Science book there is a brief on reproduction but no practical knowledge on menstruation.

The campaign also made efforts to understand the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene situation with an objective to identify the needs of girls and women and visited Dailong village situated at 11 km from Tamenglong District Headquarters.This particular village has some kind of water supply infrastructure constructed by the Government of Manipur, Public Health Engineering Department but it still awaits completion.The plant has no provision for treating the water and water distribution has been completed only till the village but not till each household.

The unique quality of water source here in Tamenglong is the ability to flow down from the hill, move parallel on the ground and then rise up again without the use of power. The district has immense potential for hydel project. A Hydel project failed in the past in this village due to poor planning and incorrect design. The team visited the Hydel project. The turbines are big but the supporting water reservoir is small in comparison and not sufficient the Chairman of the Village Authority explains. Hydel projects should be tried again with improved vision, design and engineering as Tamenglong suffers from power cuts that last for days crippling its economy.

Women do not have easy access to health facilities and certainly not to sanitary napkins as no medical stores are there up in the hills where villages are located. All stores are situated in district headquarter in Tamenglong.To add to this there is no public transportation to ferry women to town. Government of Manipur has not given any transportation facility to this remote hill district. A private jeep goes by two times in a day only. Old women as old as 80 years walk 11 to 15 kms to the market to buy essentials and medicines.

Breaking the Silence 2018 Manipur Campaign has been on the road since 9th May 2018 travelling from Imphal to Noney to Tamenglong to spread awareness on the biology and real essence of menstruation and hygiene and understand the barriers to achieve this in terms of water supply, sanitation and hygiene. On 15th May the campaign will move beyond Tamenglong and focus on the last district in its outreach for this year- Ukhrul.

15 May 20178, Tamenglong district, Manipur(India)

Conducted a training on eco-friendly bio-degradable sanitary napkins, production, types, leading manufacturers and benefits for the members of Rain Forest Club Tamenglong, a voluntary organization working on conserving nature and wild life in the district. The youth are interested in setting up a small scale industry in Tamenglong and manufacturer banana fibres sanitary pads as banana, corn and pineapple are abundant in the hill district.

Urmila Chanam, Silvia Rimai, Agui Kamei,Ajuanah Kamei,D.Pouhoi,Thanriangliu Gangmei,Philip Kamei,Ringbamliu Riamei formed the Breaking the Silence team.

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For any query or discussion you can reach me at urmila.chanam@gmail.com or urmila.chanam@yahoo.com

Visit our website at http://breakingthesilencereddroplets.com/

 

How many people have you impacted since your last update?

1000

Comments 20

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Olutosin
May 23, 2018
May 23, 2018

I am very proud of you darling sister. You are a change maker! You are a trailblazer. I am so happy to be your friend.

Thanks for changing the world, onw girl at a time.

Urmila Chanam
May 23, 2018
May 23, 2018

Every girl educated leads to a household to be educated and fed because a girl becomes a woman and a woman when she becomes a mother takes reign of the welfare of her household. Investing in a girl's education and sensitization is like saturating the entire community. It was an enriching experience to conduct these trainings. I would love to share with you what all queries adolescent girls had during these interactions. Most were burdened by restrictions during periods and wanted to break free. I am hoping I will be able to conduct these trainings in Lagos and build trainers Olutosin. Love you the most.

Prayers from Imphal

Urmila Chanam

urmila.chanam@yahoo.com

Olutosin
May 23, 2018
May 23, 2018

My dearest sister, I can't wait. I will really want us to travel to my state in Ondo, Western Nigeria so that other girls can benefit from this laudable opportunity.

Thanks for being kind.

Urmila Chanam
Jun 05, 2018
Jun 05, 2018

Sister, that is a good idea. How far is Ondo from Lagos and it will be interesting to know the gender profile there and in Lagos. For instance, in the districts I worked in Manipur I found there was no anemia in girls and women in contrast to high anemia in north India. Anemia is an indicator of nutritional status in India. Gender inequality in our homes is so steep that all good food goes to the brother and father and left overs to daughters and last to the mother. In the homes where daughters and mothers have anemia brothers and fathers do not have anemia thus proving how obsessed Indian society is for the boy child. Knowing the gender profile equips us social workers to select communities where gender inequality is deep because menstrual hygiene has foundation on such inequalities.

Love you always

Urmila Chanam

India

urmila.chanam@yahoo.com

Olutosin
Jun 06, 2018
Jun 06, 2018

My sister, On do is 5 hours drive from Lagos, no gender issues, but there is subtle male preference everywhere 

Urmila Chanam
Jun 07, 2018
Jun 07, 2018

That is not far at all and we can include Ondo if we have the resources. Looking forward to see you soon in Nigeria.

Love you sister Olutosin 

Jill Langhus
May 23, 2018
May 23, 2018

Hi Urmila. It's so great to see how passionate you are about girl's and women's menstrual rights, hygiene, access to clean water and education. Thanks for sharing your diary and campaign of activities. I'm looking forward to seeing a future update on advances in hygiene, education and access to clean water in the very near future in this region.

Urmila Chanam
May 23, 2018
May 23, 2018

How I would love to see that day, sister! A community in Noney which is supportive of girls and women for their needs related to menstruation and beyond. Interestingly, this region sees lesser gender inequality than most other parts of India. 

Much love always

Urmila Chanam

India

urmila.chanam@yahoo.com

Jill Langhus
May 23, 2018
May 23, 2018

I bet you would. I want to see that dance:-) The happy dance, that is!!! I will join in, as will all the WP sisters:) That is interesting. I did note that you were saying in most of your entries that most of them have access to pads, which seemed great to me, considering quite a few stories on here where they don't, or can't afford them and then end up missing school.

Urmila Chanam
Jun 05, 2018
Jun 05, 2018

Dear Jlanghus,

Affordability is the biggest barrier to use of sanitary pads or any other product like a tampon or menstrual cup. All the surveys and research that happens and that which we refer to for how many girls and women actually use sanitary pads and how many use cotton cloth is all based on questions asked in good faith and answers from the informant taken at face value. No one does real investigation on who uses what so when we say 57.6% girls in India in the age category of 15-24 years use sanitary pads, I am bound to ask which all regions were taken for this survey and did all rural regions were part of it. In the districts I worked, girls said they use sanitary pads but pharmacies told they sold very less pads and I also found road and transportation pathetic making me wonder if they at all bought them. Thanks for reading my post sister.

Love and hugs

Urmila Chanam

India

urmila.chanam@yahoo.com

Jill Langhus
Jun 06, 2018
Jun 06, 2018

You're welcome:) Have a great day!

coolasas
May 24, 2018
May 24, 2018

Hello Urmila, 

The update is very extensive. It's very informative at the same time it opens a lot of opportunity for discussion and action from the government and the community. 

I wish you more success and sustainability. 

Cheers, 

Coolasas

Urmila Chanam
Jun 05, 2018
Jun 05, 2018

Sister, this article was right out of my field diary and the purpose was to share activities under the outreach. The campaign was a huge success.

Hugs

Urmila Chanam

India

urmila.chanam@yahoo.com

Obisakin Busayo
May 26, 2018
May 26, 2018

Well done my dear sister and thank you for the good work you are doing. You are indeed an inspiration

Love

Busayo

Urmila Chanam
Jun 05, 2018
Jun 05, 2018

Thanks, Busayo, my precious. How are you doing?

Love always

Urmila Chanam

urmila.chanam@yahoo.com

angelam28
May 30, 2018
May 30, 2018

You work is impressive. I live in the United States and your article made me realize how much I take for granted this issue. It is a standard topic for girls in the 5th grade here to have a meeting regarding menstruation, I remember doing it when I was in the 5th grade and just attended with my daughter. Your work is truly providing value to these communities keep up the effort. 

Urmila Chanam
Jun 05, 2018
Jun 05, 2018

Dear Angelam,

You are indeed fortunate to have received valuable education on menstruation, your body and the choices you can make when you were growing up. It shows how much equality and importance is given to girls in your country. No matter how dark and dismal situation maybe, every step we take is leading to a positive change. I am living on that ray of hope and moving ahead inch by inch. Thank you for reading my post my sister and I hope you will read my article I will post today on Noney, a hill district in Manipur( India) and recommendations to the government from the field experience.

Much love

Urmila Chanam

India

urmila.chanam@yahoo.com

Karen QuiƱones-Axalan
Jun 01, 2018
Jun 01, 2018

Your accomplishments speak your character as a woman leader,  Urmila. One day, daughters of India will honor you for the work you have begun today. May I live to see that day!

Thank you for creating an impact to the remote places in India.

Urmila Chanam
Jun 05, 2018
Jun 05, 2018

Thanks Karen. What I am doing is like a drop in the vast ocean but a beginning needs to be made.

Love always

Urmila Chanam

India

urmila.chanam@yahoo.com

Marietta
Jun 13, 2018
Jun 13, 2018

SOUNDS INTERESTING