Family life in Nepal
I come from a family where a girl is not allowed to go to kitchen, worship God, or water any plants during menstruation. This is normal in my community, so I found whenever I asked about restrictions due to menstruation, the replies never satisfied my need for answers.
I could not accept the restrictions, but I never had any options not to adhere by them. I had to follow the set of rules like every girl or woman had to. I tried to hide my period and dysmenorrhoea several times when I was a teen but I knew that was not a real solution.
Many women see it as 'a sin' to touch the plants in the community, get food from the kitchen or enter the temple whilst menstruating. They believe that the girl menstruating, or a member of her family will fall sick or they will suffer a misfortune. The belief in myths was so strong and deep rooted that it wasn't possible not to stay quiet about disagreeing.
There are a couple of women rights training activities which I attended after I completed school which raised my confidence. Free Being Me and Stop The Violence built my knowledge and led me to start talking about menstruation and share the better ways to maintain hygiene during this time. My parents now allow me to live a normal life during the period cycle. I also started talking about sex education which was a taboo in the community.
Freedom Kit Bag
I found out about Freedom Kit Bag in 2017 from a doctor who was from UK. The Freedom Kit Bag is a home of homemade eco-friendly, sustainable, hygienic sanitary wears that enables a woman to manage her monthly period, and to stay clean and comfortable which improve her health. There are 12 washable, reusable thick cloth pads, 3 pad holders which fits comfortably into panties, water proof bags to put used pads in and a small bag for soap.
When I used the kit for the first time, I felt very comfortable. I was free from the tensions which I was tolerating since menstruation started. I saved the money which I used to spend to buy pads. In this way I was conserving environment in the other hand too. I wanted to share that comfort with my girl scouts, friends and other women in the community. So, shared 50 sets of kit bags with them which I received from the doctor upon my request.
While doing so, I talked about correcting the thoughts about menstruation. I received heart warming comments over my presentations and the kit bag. I started making kit bags on my own to share with those who were curious to experience the freedom. But I didn't have much to spend. So was looking for some kind of support. I came to know about 3L project of WAGGGS from a girl scout leader Prerana Shakya. I learnt email communication then only. I didn't expect much but surprisingly my proposal got selected. I received funds from WAGGGS.
20 smart ladies from different areas were involved in 3L project. we produced kit bags together which we introduced in wider communities. At the same time, we were educating women about menstrual hygiene. But to talk about menstruation and avoiding restrictions during this period was a huge challenge against deep rooted social norms and values. We came across many painful stories of young girls and women.
Need to continue
The 3L project was a successful program. It freed many girls and women from menstrual superstitions. Many young girl scout leaders still want to keep the flame of change and freedom ongoing. If they overcome the lack of resources, the girl scouting and guiding flame of change and freedom will keep continuing.