Girls Empowerment Project: Menstruation is not a Taboo: Overcoming Adolescent Challenges in Rural Nepal
Adolescent girls in rural Nepal face multiple challenges as they reach high school. Lack of counselling service on their physical and emotional growth, high expectations of parents to support them in the household chores, teachers’ expectations to work harder in their study to prepare for the high school exam and most importantly the beginning of menstruation and lack of knowledge and skills to manage the period are the key factors that often cause high drop-out rate among girls in rural high schools. This pilot training project adopted a multi-pronged approach to empower 75 girls of three districts (Bardiya, Baglung and Dadeldhura) with the strategies to handle these complex issues successfully at the local level so that they not only manage these multiple problems successfully and continue their study but also equip them with the leadership qualities so that they can take lead to initiate the community services at the local level.
The training program consisted of three components. The first component of the training focused on the support for the girls to manage the challenges of puberty, menstruation and adolescence and make them aware of the physical and emotional changes. Next, the training provided tools for girls to better manage their studies despite challenges faced during adolescence. The third component of the training focused on developing leadership qualities in them Students’ Quality Circle (SQC), a concept of student-led and student centered projects to solve problems within the framework which they are living. It was expected that by engaging them in such an integrated program of self-management and leadership development strategies, these girls will assume leadership positions initially at the micro-level, and many at the macro-level at a later part in life.
The training has already been completed and 75 girls from grade eight and nine from public schools of the three districts have been trained in the areas mentioned in the previous paragraph. These girls have prepared action plans to disseminate the learning to their friends in the respective districts.
Voices from the Girls
“The most important thing that I learned from the training is time management skill which is very important for us. I have used it since the training and it has helped me a lot in my study. Boys come to us and they want to learn the techniques of time management and study skills management that we learned in the training. So, we make groups and share what we learned in training to the boys. I feel very happy to help the boys” – Girls from Bablung
“We shared how to address adolescent changes to the girls of grade 5 – 8 and now we are planning to talk about menstruation hygiene. We will follow the action plan that we developed during the training. We teach what we learned to my friends in groups. we ask them what they already know and encourage them to share the problems they have. We share what we know each other on the issues that we discussed in the training” – Girls from Dadeldhura
“First of all, I was able to improve my public speaking from the training. I learned how to address the physiological changes that takes place during puberty and adolescence and how to maintain menstruation hygiene. We shared about managing adolescent changes to all the girls from grade 5 to 8 after the training and we are now planning to share about maintain menstruation hygiene to those girls in the near future” – Susmita from Bardiya
“From training I learned to present my view without hesitation, raise voices against the ill-practices. I developed confidence to do something on my own and do not feel small now. Now I also manage time effectively” – Mamata from Baglung
“My perspective has changed a lot. I now feel that women should not be confined within the kitchen but they should be dedicating themselves to the nation building process. I learned that isolation during menstruation is a bad practice and I also learned about the value of time now” – Sikha from Dadeldhuara
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Highlights of the Training