Throughout the lifetime of a woman, it is estimated that she will have menstruated for approximately 3,000 days. For an average school going girl, calculated from the grades 5ththrough 12th, this translates to an average of 450 days of her life when she is attending school. As is common among girls in the rural areas of Nepal, if such a girl uses rags, leaves, mud, toilet paper or bark cloth due to lack of better alternatives such as sanitary napkins, she will not be able to comfortably attend school for these 450 days. This is especially true if the school in question does not have a separate bathroom for girls, or provisions for maintenance of basic hygiene.

The most popular method adopted by a vast majority of women to whom sanitary napkins are not available are rags, which are often torn up from old clothes. These clothes might not be sterile to begin with, making the women who use them susceptible to a variety of infections. The rags are also washed and reused. However, due to the associated shame with the process of menstruation itself, women have to find secluded places to wash the rags, often in the absence of safe water and soap to do so properly. There is again the problem of drying the rags, and since women experience embarrassment to do so in the sun where other people might happen upon them, they have to search for hidden places even inside their own homes. Where the rags are finally put to dry are often dark and damp places which are breeding places of harmful bacteria and even fungus.

Use of rags under such conditions is responsible for a significant proportion of illnesses and infections associated with the female reproductive health. Unclean rags are the direct cause of urinary and vaginal infections, which are again often left untreated due to the shame associated with discussion of women health issues. In the Karnali province, which is the targeted project area of this incentive, Menstruation Hygiene & Management (MHM) remains a daunting challenge, since as in many rural districts; menstruation is a very private matter and is rarely spoken about in public.

Apart from the secrecy and shame associated with the subject, the price of sanitary napkins themselves is a hurdle in the practice of safe MHM. The income of many households is lesser than $1, per day; making the purchase of sanitary napkins for women in the household, who remain mute about the issues they face to begin with, very unlikely. The objective of this project is to provide access to free sanitary napkins to underprivileged girls in schools, with the schools as the outlet itself. The project is to be piloted in Simta VDC, in Surkhet, which is a rural district in the Karnali province. The proposed budget will be used to purchase materials, pay for skilled tutors and distribution expenses. Virtual sales will also be promoted through crowd funding and the SSSF website for individuals to pay for a Sanitary Pad Kit and the proceeds will then be used for increased distribution.

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