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NEW: 'Adolescent Girls do not Talk about Periods'

Updated: May 3

Q. What are the various menstrual health services delivered in your village and district? What is your role in the process?

Auxiliary Nurse-Midwife (ANM): Through Arogya Kalyan Samitis, we talk to people about menstrual hygiene. We inform the ASHAs and the ASHAs, in turn, go door-to-door to explain the same to women and girls. Due to our duties in the hospital, our work in the field is impacted.

Q. At what level does conversation about menstruation usually take place? Are any kind of community-based events organised to discuss menstrual hygiene?

ANM: There is a meeting of ASHAs with women and girls once a month, where they inform them about menstrual health practices. Periods are also discussed in Village Health, Sanitation,

and Nutrition Days* (VHSND) and Mata Samiti** meetings.

Q. Do you think community members are interested in discussing menstrual hygiene? Who all are usually involved? Are women and especially adolescent girls interested in understanding menstrual hygiene from you? Has any adolescent girl approached you on this topic directly?

ANM: There is very little talk on this issue and we are the ones who initiate the conversation around periods. We tell them that the duration of menstruation can be different for each person. Adolescent girls do not come to us for these conversations. We try to discuss this with their mothers but, most of the time, they do not even come to the Anganwadi Centre.

Q. Have you received any training on menstrual health?

ANM: We were trained a long time back, but no training has been given on this subject since.

We tell women to use pads during their periods, take iron pills, not go out too much, take proper rest, and avoid using cloth. The ones who are a little educated understand this, while those who are not, do as they please.

Q. Are you aware of whether your Gram Panchayat prioritises menstrual health services during its planning? What kind of services or schemes are accounted for under menstrual health?

ANM: No, I don't know about the Panchayat’s planning. Moreover, we are not invited to the decision-making process. If one talks about toilets and water facilities which are very important for women, this is a flood prone area; every year the surge wrecks the infrastructure here.

Q. Are you eligible for government menstrual health services too?

ANM: We do not get any leaves for our period. We buy sanitary pads ourselves. When we don't even get pads, what can the citizens expect?

This interview was conducted with an ANM in Bihar in Hindi on 27 March 2023, and has been translated.

Image Credits: Image by Suffix from Pixabay

* VHSNDs are held monthly at AWCs and aim to provide a range of services to beneficiaries,

including immunisation, counselling, weighing, supplementary nutrition, provision of Iron and Folic Acid,

Vitamin A, and Calcium tablets, etc.

** The Samiti comprises 7-12 members, including ASHA, Anganwadi Workers, one person from Care India, and mothers. Mata Samitis are held once a month, majorly for health-related discussions.

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