Nima Dema, 14, is a 10th grade student at Chundu Central School in Yangthang village. Like many girls in rural Bhutan, she grew up knowing little about menstrual health as it was a topic not openly discussed in the community.
“It was difficult to understand what it means,” Nima says. “Many girls faced difficulties in maintaining good hygiene.”
The lack of access to information on menstruation, given the taboo nature of the subject, poses a challenge for many young girls like Nima. Often, they have no one they can approach to show them how to use sanitary napkins or how to stay clean during their menstruation. Consequently, poor menstrual hygiene leads to health problems and sometimes forces girls to miss school, which interferes with their education.
To help girls learn more about menstruation, READ Bhutan conducted a Women’s Health program at the Yangthang READ Center.
These programs teach young girls the importance of feminine hygiene and enhances their knowledge on women’s health issues. It also helps to build their confidence and enables them to discuss these issues comfortably with other girls. “It was one of the most useful programs I had the opportunity to participate in and learn from,” Nima said. “Since the participants were only women and girls, we did not hesitate to speak and learned a lot from the program. So, I felt the need to share what I learnt.”
Thanks to the program, Nima is now able to better manage her menstruation. She can maintain and track her menstrual calendar and ensure that she attends school even on days she is on her period. Nima even volunteers to conduct menstrual health awareness programs for other girls in the community.
“I derive great satisfaction that I could share what I learnt with my friends – it makes me proud. I would like to thank my READ Center for the opportunity,” says Nima, who also visits the READ Center regularly to access books and computers.
READ Bhutan implements programs at READ Centers for women and girls such as health camps. It also distributes “Days for Girls” kits, which include feminine hygiene products and provides workshops on menstrual health and feminine hygiene. With the support of its partners, READ goes beyond educating hundreds of girls, like Nima, on menstruation but also enables them to understand their rights as women, while providing them a safe space to gather and learn.