SNV presents menstrual hygiene research to civil society alliance
In March 2015, SNV’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector leader in Lao PDR, Aftab Opel, presented at the Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance workshop on gender and nutrition. The presentation focused on Menstrual Hygiene Research in Lao PDR, citing the results of research done by SNV in Savannakhet province.
Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) is an important cross-sector issue due to its effects on young women’s school attendance and performance, which can have lasting impacts on various areas of life. Many girls in developing nations worldwide miss nearly a week of school each month due to menstruation, and education and resources available on the subject and often limited and inconsistent.
In Lao PDR, over 22% of women in Laos are 10-19 years of age, in the key target group to improve their knowledge, practices, and attitudes about menstrual hygiene management for the future. SNV’s research on MHM focused on interviews with female students at 38 schools in Savannakhet province. Young women were surveyed about hygiene facilities and instruction at their schools, as well as their own experience and practices with menstruation.
Most of the schools where students were surveyed did have toilets available, but the vast majority had no soap and water and no separate toilet for girls. A large percentage of the girls surveyed reported feeling uncomfortable and a lack of privacy at school during menstruation, and many believed that it affected their school performance, due to a lack of concentration.
Only about half of the young women reported receiving any instruction on MHM at school, and usually several years after menstruation had actually begun for them. Most of the girls said that they felt scared when their menstruation began, and nearly half had no prior knowledge of the process when it started.
As the conclusion to the presentation, SNV reiterated the potential benefits to MHM programmes, considering the number of menstrual age school girls in the nation, and the tangible economic benefits of keeping girls in school and focused.