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In an Effort to Leave No One Behind GIWA and WSSCC organises First Ever Online Training of Trainers
The first ever four-day Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) online training of TOTs (Training of Trainers) was organised by Global Interfaith Wash Alliance (GIWA) and the Water Supply Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) to sensitize practitioners on the biological process of menstruation, the negative impact of social taboos on girls and women’s life, safe practices to manage menstruation hygienically and safe disposal of menstrual waste.
GIWA and WSSCC hosted and organised this training, in association with Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, Sarvodaya Ashram in Hardoi and Harijan Sevak Sangh -Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Chapters. Blessing the participants during its inauguration, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Co-Founder/Chair of GIWA shared, “By working to reach the last in line, we are trying to touch the very soul and essence of India. Let us turn the trial and tribulations of vulnerable communities into an opportunity to inspire, empower and ignite great change in not only Menstrual Hygiene and Health but also in Mental Hygiene and Health such that the stigmas and taboos associated with menstruation are abolished forever.”
The training was attended by 36 participants who had previously attended a one-day MHM orientation training with GIWA after which they willing volunteered to participate in the ToT. They are teachers mostly between 25-35 years of age from Hardoi and Shahjanpur district in the North Indian State of Uttar Pradesh. “They don’t work in an official school but they reach out to villagers and children in these rural regions to teach and inspire them, each of them works directly with at least thirty or more children. We wanted to reach them especially from a Leave No One Behind perspective,” said Ms Ganga Nandini, Director of Project Implementation, Integration, Communication, GIWA.
“We’ve received important information on menstruation through this training and have realised that we shouldn’t be ashamed of menstruation but be proud of it. Misinformation is evil and we need to eradicate it from the society. Through discussions and dialogues, we will bust myths and taboos,” said Veeresha Devi, a participant.
Mr Vinod Mishra, National Coordinator of WSSCC, said, “This is the first online ToT and WSSCC is looking forward to taking the learning from this training to apply it to other upcoming training sessions. This learning will help us bring change and we can uproot stigmas and taboos from their very root.”
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Secretary General of GIWA, shared to the participants in her inaugural address, “Typically in India, when girls are on their period, they colloquially say, ‘I’m down.’ Now our effort is to make them say ‘I am up’ during menstruation. There is nothing to be down about! God has given girls the power to create life, and they should be proud of the part they play in the beautiful cycle of life.”
A three-pronged approach for better results
The WSSCC training focuses on a three-pronged approach on MHM, in which the first approach is to break silence on the subject and then eliminate taboos and stigma associated with menstruation. The second approach comprises creating awareness amongst the masses through different resources available for menstrual hygiene management. The final approach tackles the safe disposal of products and materials used.
“All information was shared as per the ToT Manual of WSSCC on MHM. Various training materials had been shared with the participants in advance, it included WSSCC’s Training of Trainers Manual, MHM Lab Manual, MHM Wheel, and As We Grow Up India booklets/pamphlets. The aim of this training programme was to create a cadre of trainers with the knowledge and skills on inclusive WASH and Menstrual Hygiene Management so that they can further train other people at block and village cluster level, including health extension workers, teachers, parents and adolescent girls and women,” shared Ms Aryadurga Nayakji, Senior Project Manager, GIWA.
Addressing the participants, Ms Trupti Ashtankar, WASH Support Officer at WSSCC, said, “The real success of this training is that you will take this message and help it reach the most vulnerable populations, help us reach every girl and women so that they are empowered to take care of their bodies and their health. So that they know that menstruation is not a problem but a celebration of having the power to co-create life.”
‘Breaking silence, busting myths and taboos’
“Dissemination of information in adolescents and women groups will help us reach the rural population to break stigmas and taboos associated with Menstruation. Silence is still there and breaking it is the topmost priority. I am glad we are doing something to be part of the change,” said Ms Pranami Garg, an MHM trainer.
Among development issues, menstrual hygiene remains one of the most challenging. According to a UNICEF report, at least 500 million women and girls worldwide lack adequate facilities for menstrual health and hygiene management (MHM). In India, women and young girls face discrimination based on Menstruation. A 2014 study titled Spot On revealed that 63 million adolescent girls live in a home without toilet facilities.
Kusum Jauhariji, President of the Harijan Sevak Sangh, Uttar Pradesh, Sarvodaya Ashram, Hardoi shared, “This is the first 4-day online Menstrual Hygiene Management training in India. I feel proud by participating in this special training and it was an amazing experience. I personally had to face many myths and taboos associated with menstruation that is why this subject is very close to my heart. I was glad to see participants had almost 100% attendance for the entire four days. Whatever the instructors told them, they responded very well through recap. They are good learners. To me the greatest success is that all the participants were willing to do this training again in Rishikesh which means that they understand the importance of this subject. The nectar of the training was Pujya Swamiji and Pujya Sadhvi ji’s message. That message was very inspiring not only for the participants but also for me. I look forward to facilitating many more trainings.”
“It has been such a great opportunity and learning lesson to lead this training. At first, I didn’t know how we would be able to lead a four day completely online training but I have been so pleasantly surprised to see the positive reply,” said Ms Surekha Lambe, an MHM trainer. Dr Priya Parmar, who explained the health aspects of menstruation to the participants, said, “I am honoured to be part of this training. This is such an important and vital topic that needs as much conversation and dialogue around it as possible.”
“Given that the average woman spends 7 years menstruating if you were sending your sister or daughter or wife somewhere for 7 years, wouldn’t you make sure it was as safe, healthy and comfortable as possible? So we must ensure menstrual health for all. We need to openly discuss menstrual safety and break our silence so that our sisters and daughters can be provided with a safe environment,” said Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Secretary-General, GIWA.