News18 » Photos » In Photos: Through Games and Races, Girls in KGBV Schools Are Learning About Menstrual Hygiene

In Photos: Through Games and Races, Girls in KGBV Schools Are Learning About Menstrual Hygiene

This visual story was shot in 2019 under The WASH Photo Project and was first published on Social & Political Research Foundation(SPRF). Headquartered in New Delhi, SPRF is a young policy think tank seeking to make public policy research holistic and accessible.

Buzz | | December 18, 2020, 8:09 pm
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 In India, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Rural), Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK), and the Menstrual Hygiene Scheme under the National Health Mission, have been working towards awareness programmes, accessible hygiene products and sanitation facilities, and making schools/communities MHM friendly. Yet, according to research, only 48% of the adolescent girls in India are aware of menstruation before their first period and 23% drop out on reaching puberty because of the inability to access menstrual hygiene products and the lack of clean toilets and water, which also impacts their health. Photo: Meenal Upreti

In India, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Rural), Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK), and the Menstrual Hygiene Scheme under the National Health Mission, have been working towards awareness programmes, accessible hygiene products and sanitation facilities, and making schools/communities MHM friendly. Yet, according to research, only 48% of the adolescent girls in India are aware of menstruation before their first period and 23% drop out on reaching puberty because of the inability to access menstrual hygiene products and the lack of clean toilets and water, which also impacts their health. Photo: Meenal Upreti

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 The pandemic has also adversely affected access to menstrual hygiene products, especially in rural parts of India. Unfortunately, the worst hit are the ones living in underserved last mile rural communities. A report from a rapid survey by Menstrual Health Alliance India which was shared on May 21 highlighted that 84% of the NGOs indicated that there is either no or very poor access to period products in communities that they work in, especially sanitary pads. Photo: Meenal Upreti

The pandemic has also adversely affected access to menstrual hygiene products, especially in rural parts of India. Unfortunately, the worst hit are the ones living in underserved last mile rural communities. A report from a rapid survey by Menstrual Health Alliance India which was shared on May 21 highlighted that 84% of the NGOs indicated that there is either no or very poor access to period products in communities that they work in, especially sanitary pads. Photo: Meenal Upreti

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 The Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas scheme was launched by the Indian government in 2004, primarily in educationally backward blocks, to “ensure access and quality education for girls” belonging to the marginalised communities to fix the gender gaps in literacy. Photo: Meenal Upreti

The Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas scheme was launched by the Indian government in 2004, primarily in educationally backward blocks, to “ensure access and quality education for girls” belonging to the marginalised communities to fix the gender gaps in literacy. Photo: Meenal Upreti

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 KGBVs are residential schools for girls up to 14 years of age. Apart from conventional education, students here are also taught martial arts, life skills, vocational skills like weaving, screen printing, and doll making, as well as co-curricular activities such as dancing, singing, and painting. MHM education forms an integral part of their overall growth and development. In 2014, a total of 3609 KGBVs were sanctioned across 460 districts by the Government of India. Meenal Upreti, a Delhi-based photographer, cinematographer and visual artist, documented the MHM education and interventions in KGBVs in Madhya Pradesh. While conversing with the girls, she was surprised to see how confident and aware they were about menstruation. She says, “The girls from KGBV Chenpura in Jhabua are the most fearless girls I have seen in a while. They are extremely confident girls who are well aware of the facts about menstruation and perform plays to educate other girls from their school. ” Photo: Meenal Upreti

KGBVs are residential schools for girls up to 14 years of age. Apart from conventional education, students here are also taught martial arts, life skills, vocational skills like weaving, screen printing, and doll making, as well as co-curricular activities such as dancing, singing, and painting. MHM education forms an integral part of their overall growth and development. In 2014, a total of 3609 KGBVs were sanctioned across 460 districts by the Government of India. Meenal Upreti, a Delhi-based photographer, cinematographer and visual artist, documented the MHM education and interventions in KGBVs in Madhya Pradesh. While conversing with the girls, she was surprised to see how confident and aware they were about menstruation. She says, “The girls from KGBV Chenpura in Jhabua are the most fearless girls I have seen in a while. They are extremely confident girls who are well aware of the facts about menstruation and perform plays to educate other girls from their school. ” Photo: Meenal Upreti

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 The girls are taught games that are designed to educate them about menstruation and cleanliness. For instance, a common household game such as snakes and ladders has been modified for interactive learning. Meenal explains, “This is a menstruation-related game where girls play it like the basic snakes and ladders, the difference being that the snakes represent the myths about menstruation and the ladders teach them how to maintain hygiene during this period.”<br />Breaking taboos and myths around menstruation are central to MHM education. Meenal met the school Karate team leader, Babita, who told her, “Even though I am having periods today, I will not miss my practices because we are taught to break myths.” Photo: Meenal Upreti

The girls are taught games that are designed to educate them about menstruation and cleanliness. For instance, a common household game such as snakes and ladders has been modified for interactive learning. Meenal explains, “This is a menstruation-related game where girls play it like the basic snakes and ladders, the difference being that the snakes represent the myths about menstruation and the ladders teach them how to maintain hygiene during this period.”
Breaking taboos and myths around menstruation are central to MHM education. Meenal met the school Karate team leader, Babita, who told her, “Even though I am having periods today, I will not miss my practices because we are taught to break myths.” Photo: Meenal Upreti

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 When the girls return home during holidays, they teach their mothers and aunts about their learnings around menstruation, which often helps raise awareness and break orthodox traditions that women usually follow during menstruation. For example, even though entering the kitchen or cooking during menses remains a taboo, Meenal says, “their mothers and aunts have benefited so much from this information that they have started going to the kitchen while they are menstruating.” Photo: Meenal Upreti

When the girls return home during holidays, they teach their mothers and aunts about their learnings around menstruation, which often helps raise awareness and break orthodox traditions that women usually follow during menstruation. For example, even though entering the kitchen or cooking during menses remains a taboo, Meenal says, “their mothers and aunts have benefited so much from this information that they have started going to the kitchen while they are menstruating.” Photo: Meenal Upreti

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 Rekha and Muskan have been best friends for five years. Their parents admitted them together in KGBV, Alirajpur so that they could take care of each other. The girls say that when they go back home during holidays, they tell their mothers everything they learn about menstruation. Photo: Meenal Upreti

Rekha and Muskan have been best friends for five years. Their parents admitted them together in KGBV, Alirajpur so that they could take care of each other. The girls say that when they go back home during holidays, they tell their mothers everything they learn about menstruation. Photo: Meenal Upreti

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 Toilet race is another game they play to remember WASH theories well. A modified form of musical chairs, the headmistress of the school explains how the game works: “The girls draw seats on the courtyards using chalks and the one who misses the chair is eliminated. However, before getting eliminated, the girl is supposed to knock on the toilet door to ask her friend if she could use the toilet for a moment and then use an imaginary tap to wash her hands.” Photo: Meenal Upreti. (This visual story was shot in 2019 under The WASH Photo Project and was first published on Social & Political Research Foundation(SPRF). Headquartered in New Delhi, SPRF is a young policy think tank seeking to make public policy research holistic and accessible.)

Toilet race is another game they play to remember WASH theories well. A modified form of musical chairs, the headmistress of the school explains how the game works: “The girls draw seats on the courtyards using chalks and the one who misses the chair is eliminated. However, before getting eliminated, the girl is supposed to knock on the toilet door to ask her friend if she could use the toilet for a moment and then use an imaginary tap to wash her hands.” Photo: Meenal Upreti. (This visual story was shot in 2019 under The WASH Photo Project and was first published on Social & Political Research Foundation(SPRF). Headquartered in New Delhi, SPRF is a young policy think tank seeking to make public policy research holistic and accessible.)

  • First Published: December 18, 2020, 3:40 pm

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