In a significant step towards promoting menstrual hygiene, the ‘School Menstrual Hygiene Management Summit’ was a significant event held at Himalayan Hospital, Jollygrant.
Rural Development Institute-Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust (Himalayan Hospital), Dehradun, in collaboration with Azim Premji Foundation and the Uttarakhand State Education Department, organized the summit. The summit brought together educators, policymakers, health professionals, and students from across the state to address the critical issue of menstrual hygiene in schools.
The summit began with an opening address by Dr. Rajeev Bijalwan, Deputy Director RDI- HIHT who emphasized upon gender integration in menstrual hygiene management. One of the key highlights of the summit was the inauguration of “Pahle Kadam” a book developed by RDI on menstrual hygiene.
Dr Vijendra Chauhan, Vice Chancellor, SRHU, started by saying, “there are more misconceptions and myths than the number of problems in the menstrual cycle. It will be possible to remove these misconceptions and myths only when we address adolescent girls and women through programs like ‘School Menstrual Hygiene Program.”
Dr. Geeta Khanna, Chairman Uttarakhand Child Right Protection Commission praised the work done by NGOs on menstrual health and hygiene. She emphasized upon working with the government as only then we can take such programs to a larger level. She said, ” such programs should be done more in public, only then we can reduce the misconceptions and taboos in society.”
Dr Jyoti Sharma, who delivered the Inaugural Address emphasized upon girls and women being supported in managing their periods safely and with dignity. She addressed proper menstrual product usage, personal hygiene, and the importance of access to clean water and sanitation facilities. She also stressed upon the importance of sex education which should be incorporated in the school syllabus.
Mahavir Singh Bisht, Deputy Director of Secondary Education, explained in detail about the efforts being made by the government. He believed that the collaboration of NGOs and other organizations with the government can make programs like school menstrual hygiene management programs very successful and effective.
Rural Development Institute – Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust Director, B. Maithali stated that we must give as much importance to the boys as we give to the girls and only then can we make this program successful. She highlighted the need for breaking gender stereotypes and involving men and boys in conversations surrounding menstruation.
Dr. Bharti Dangwal, Senior State Program Manager, American Indian Foundation Uttarakhand emphasized on promotion of menstrual hygiene in rural areas through MHM programs while Deepa Kaushalam, Program Director, Astitva Foundation, delivered a compelling address on gender integration in menstrual health management.
From Swami Rama Himalayan University, Dr Neerul Pandita, Dr. Enas Mushtaq, Dr. Neha Sharma, Ms Neelam Pandey, and Dr Rajeev Bijalwan also shared their experiences and views on menstrual hygiene management.