After World Menstrual Hygiene Day last week, the rise of menstrual consciousness also caught social media platforms, with photos and videos of people sharing about breaking taboos associated with menstruation.

Menstrual Hygiene Bhutan, a page on Facebook administered by School Health and Nutrition Division (SHND), posted that as people share materials, good practices and create awareness on menstruation hygiene, children and youth need to start taking care of one another.

“By taking care of our friends and neighbour, we will create ambience of true bliss and instill values of sharing to our future citizens,” read the post.

Recognising disposal as one of the main challenges in maintaining menstrual hygiene, SHND said that the division would work with Clean Bhutan to work on solutions. “We are trying to collaborate with different organisations. In schools now, we want girls to have changing rooms and give continued response to the support.”

Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) officer at UNICEF Bhutan, Sonam Gyaltshen, said, “At UNICEF, we are committed to working together with our partners in ensuring safe and clean toilets and running water for adolescent school girls and nuns for effective menstrual hygiene management.”

Karma Group of Companies had plans to set up a manufacturing unit that will be focused on making sanitary pads.

“The machine will be set up in one of the remote places,” said SHND officials.

Health coordinator of Zilukha MSS, Yanchen Dema, said that the school has two changing rooms for girls attached to toilets. “These rooms are taken care by senior students. The school has sanitary pads for emergency purposes.”

She said that continued awareness and education related to menstrual health is provided to students.

Currently, she said, pads are disposed of in the city garbage trucks. “However, with large number of girls in the school there are plans on working with the education ministry on possibilities of other disposal methods.”

Zilukha MSS also shared sanitary pads with students of Lauri Primary School (PS) in Samdrupjongkhar.

It was found that there are about eight pad-making machines in the country that were distributed by the education ministry last year.

Principal of Jigme Losel PS, Choki Dukpa, said that there were numerous people who showed interest in helping donate sanitary pads. “We didn’t even step outside of our schools. This support means that people care for women and girls.”

She said such support need to be continuous so that women and girls are  empowered.

Jigme Losel PS had shared sanitary pads with schools of Jigme Sherubling CS, khaling, Langdurbi PS, Zhemgang, Pangthang PS in Mongar, Dungmin PS, Mekuri PS, among others.

A teacher of Trashiyangtse Lower Secondary School LSS, Jigme Dorji, said that after menstrual hygiene day was observed at his school, people have become more aware of it. “Even after the day, we wanted to continue creating awareness and to wards helping the cause.”

He said that there was a positive response from public when teachers and volunteers went around the area asking for support.

“As our school is situated in the throm area, we felt that the need was more in remote areas as there is no accessibility. So, Project Pa-Nyam-Kaygay was initiated as menstruation is not something that should be hidden but something to be proud of,” said Jigme Dorji.

About Nu 15, 000 was collected within two days and more than 230 packets of sanitary pads were provided.

“We are planning to help and train women on how to make reusable napkins. Trashiyangtse MSS had shared sanitary pads to about nine schools,” Jigme Dorji said.

SHND officials said: “We have to work harder and we have to ensure that the public support would not go to waste and that there is continuity. We can make good interventions.”

Officials said that Lhaki group of companies, Thimphu City FC, BoB have been supporting the movement with numerous schools and public figures in the country.

Education ministry started the menstruation hygiene movement which is supported by UNICEF.

Rinchen Zangmo