Umang Ek Pahal
This topic provides information about Umang Ek Pahal.
Innovation: To reduce the number of girls who drop out of school bycreating awareness regarding menstrual health and distributing free sanitary napkins
Location: Jhajjar, Haryana
Key Stakeholders: Department of Women & Child Development, District Task Force of BBBP, District Education Department, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), Haryana State Rural Livelihood Mission (HSRLM), Adolescent Girls.
A large number of rural girls in Jhajjar studying in schools cannot affordregular purchase of sanitary napkins. They abstain from attending school due to menstruation. High absenteeism and dropouts among adolescent girls in school at the outset of their menstrual cycle is a challenge. To address this pressing need, a convergence initiative entitled ‘Umang – Ek Pahal’ was introduced to provide adolescent girls with sanitary napkins for free to encourage them to pursue their education. Sanitary napkins produced by Self Help Groups (SHGs) under the Haryana State Rural Livelihood Mission (HSRLM) were distributed to adolescent girls in Government schools under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) Innovation Fund.
Initially, schools with a higher number of girls were identified. SSA funds for the project were utilized and the project commenced in a phased manner. Functional platforms like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP), Nari ki Chaupal and Balika Manch were also engaged with to optimise the impact of this intervention.
Factors Contributing to Success
Support from the Department of Education and District Administration in the implementation of this project has been crucial. Monitoring by field coordinators to ensure that there is a sufficient stock of sanitary napkins available for distribution in schools has also been a factor contributing to the success of this initiative. The District Task Force of BBBP has also been an important source of support in the facilitation of this initiative.
Outcome, Benefits and Impact
Umang – Ek Pahal has been implemented by the District Administration in 200 Government schools. 39 schools were identified in the first phase, which benefitted 5500 girl students over a period of 4 months. 13,438 girls have benefitted through the free distribution of sanitary napkins over 6 months. There has been a substantial reduction in absenteeism among girls upto 40% since the inception of this activity. There has been a rise in the confidence levels of girls during Balika Manch activities. The programme provides employment to 22 women engaged in the production of sanitary napkins under the Haryana State Rural Livelihood Mission (HSRLM). Records are maintained to track the distribution of sanitary napkins in order to institutionalise the practice and ensure compliance and monitoring.
Challenges and Future Prospects
One of the major challenges in Jhajjar is the availability of affordable sanitary napkins. By providing sanitary napkins free of cost to adolescent girls, this initiative is effectively addressing this problem. To change the mindset of people about the taboo associated with menstruation; this initiative has helped make girls comfortable with the idea of talking about menstrual hygiene and health freely and the utilization of sanitary napkins.
The future prospects of ‘Umang Ek Pahal’ lies in the rigorous monitoring of the activity and periodic advocacy through State campaigns.