Nurani Khatoon’s Journey to Embracing Menstrual Hygiene
It is a story of a 14-year girl named Nurani Khatoon. She lived in a small village called Sahdeva which is bordering to Nepal. The major livelihood of the village is agriculture, daily wage labourer. As it is situated near to border so many people of the village going to Birganj – Nepal where some small factories are running and people who are unskilled or semi-skilled go there and work in those factories as daily wage labour to earn their livelihood. Nurani’s father Yaaseen Miya is also one of them and earn very little to manage his family. Her mother, Rawotza Khatoon, diligently managed the household as a homemaker.
In Sahdeva village, menstrual health and hygiene were considered taboo topics. Orthodox rituals and beliefs surrounded menstruation, leaving little room for awareness and proper menstrual hygiene management. Women and girls, including Nurani, resorted to using pieces of cloth which are not hygienically clean during their periods and often reusing them despite the risk of infections and health-related issues.
Part 1: An Awakening in the Right to be a Girl Project
Nurani Khatoon’s life took a positive turn when she became part of an Adolescent Group established under the Right to be a Girl project. The project’s Field Mobilizer, through various sessions on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), shed light on body changes during adolescence and the importance of menstrual hygiene management.
During these meetings, it became evident that many girls lacked awareness about menstruation and its safe management. Nurani, too, realized the unhygienic practices she had been following during her periods and the potential health risks associated with them.
Part 2: The Determination to Change
Equipped with newfound knowledge, Nurani decided to take charge of her menstrual health. She made a resolution to use sanitary pads during her periods and to dispose of them safely. However, when she shared her decision with her mother, Rawotza, practical challenges emerged.
Rawotza expressed concern about the cost of sanitary pads, as their meagre income made it difficult to afford such essentials. In addition, societal stigma surrounding menstruation made the idea of purchasing sanitary pads a daunting prospect for Nurani and her family.
Part 3: Overcoming Challenges
Undeterred by these obstacles, Nurani showed unwavering determination. She confidently assured her mother that sanitary pads need not be costly, and they could find a way to manage the expense. With a compassionate spirit, Nurani educated her mother about the importance of menstrual hygiene and how using sanitary pads would benefit her health.
To address the issue of purchasing sanitary pads discreetly, Nurani explained that many women now used them, and there was no shame in buying them from shops. She highlighted the presence of lady shopkeepers and the possibility of seeking assistance from the frontline health worker ASHA, who could help procure the necessary supplies.
Part 4: Paving the Way for Change
Nurani’s unwavering determination and heartfelt explanations won her mother’s support. They started acquiring sanitary pads and ensuring proper disposal during menstruation. As Nurani embraced this hygienic practice, she became a beacon of inspiration for other girls in her village.
She started sharing her knowledge and experiences with her friends, encouraging them to adopt safe menstrual hygiene practices as well. Nurani’s advocacy within her community ignited a spark of change, prompting more young girls to break free from the confines of traditional beliefs and embrace a healthier approach to menstruation.
Epilogue: A New Paradigm of Awareness
Nurani Khatoon’s journey towards menstrual hygiene management marked a significant shift in Sahdeva village. Her courage to challenge cultural norms and seek better health practices reshaped the perspectives of many.
With the continued support of the Right to be a Girl project and other initiatives, more young girls like Nurani began to access crucial information about menstrual hygiene management. Slowly but steadily, the village let go of archaic practices, embracing a new paradigm of awareness and empowerment.
Nurani’s story stands as a testament to the power of knowledge, determination, and advocacy. Her efforts not only improved her own life but also positively impacted the lives of countless girls in Sahdeva village. As the light of enlightenment spread, it illuminated a brighter future for the girls of the community, promising health, dignity, and a chance to break free from the shackles of age-old taboos.