HerWASH Menstrual Hygiene Management Project

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Karachi : Interim Minister Health, Sindh, Dr. Saad Niaz, attended the WaterAid workshop on Menstrual Hygiene Management. The conference was attended by Former Member of the Provincial Assembly of Sindh, Ms. Tanzeela Qambrani, Leader of the Opposition MPA, Ms Rana Ansar, Country Director, WaterAid, Mr. Arif Jabbar and Gender Advisor, WASH, Ms Raheema Panhwar.

The project of Menstrual Hygiene Management is addressing the disparity of lack of bathroom facilities for girls and women in schools and offices. This basic and integral omission from the school and office structures in the country alienates and puts at risk millions of girls and women. Studies show that lack of this simple facility results in girls and women being absent from school and work during their menstrual cycles as they do not have any place with which to comfortably use or change sanitary pads, check for stains or practice safe menstrual hygiene.

Caretaker Minister Health, Sindh, mentioned the stigma surrounding the topic of menstruation in the country, that despite being doctors they feel and said that this must end. He said that he is currently in charge of three Ministries; Health, Public Health & Rural Development & Social Welfare and that this project of WaterAid could stand to benefit from the support of all three ministries.

Dr. Saad Niaz added that since this project is working so closely with schools then the Education Department should also be called on board to support WaterAids endeavours to not only provide safe hygienic bathrooms for girls separately in all the schools but also to ensure there is a menstruation aid box in every school and public office.

He further asked how many schools need toilets for girls and women, after there is a clear cut volume of need for this there will be funding acquired so that work can begin on this. He also vowed that in 30 days we will have menstrual aid boxes in every public sector health facility and that the project that WaterAid implemented in Thatta should be replicated as soon as possible in other districts.

WaterAids project on Menstrual Hygiene Management in Thatta is a holistic endeavour that is addressing the gap in public health, which is that there is a lack of bathrooms for girls and women in places of work and study. This project has been training teachers in schools as well as student ambassadors to raise awareness on menstrual hygiene and reduce the stigma around this natural part of life. Treating this as a taboo increases the risk of urinary tract infections and damage to the reproductive health of women.

Water-Aid, Pakistan with support of Global Affairs Canada as partners marked the successful conclusion of the HerWASH – Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) project. The event showcased the transformative journey undertaken to address menstrual hygiene challenges faced by women and girls in Pakistan.

Addressing the gathering, Mr. Arif Jabbar Khan, Country Director of Water Aid-Pakistan, said that WaterAid MHM journey began in 2011 and has now become a campaign that is working at different levels on raising awareness on the significance of Menstrual Hygiene Management and the provision of services and inclusive infrastructure. This project give this campaign a boost and WaterAid with it’s partners and key stakeholders will continue the momentum created so far.

Ms. Raheema Panhwar, an advocate for MHM and Gender Advisor, briefed the participants on the different components of the project n highlighted the need for integrated approach to MHM.

This include MHM behaviour change, Capacity building, provision of inclusive infrastructure and availability of MHM services.
Students, MHM Champions, Community members and govt officials shared their experiences on the learning form the project and how it impacted their lives.

The event featured three documentaries spotlighting the significance of MHM and showcased artwork by students. Noteworthy speakers, including Ms. Tanzila Ume Habiba, Former Member Provincial Assembly & Special Assistant to CM on Information Science Technology, shared her personal experiences. Ms. Habiba underscored the dearth of MHM facilities during her tenure in various prominent roles
Ms. Rana Ansar, Former MPA & Leader of Opposition in Sindh Assembly, spoke passionately about her involvement in the project and her commitment to breaking taboos around menstrual hygiene. She shared her legislative efforts and stressed the need for inclusive washrooms in all schools, public spaces, and offices.
Dr. Saad Khalid Niaz, Caretaker Provincial Minister of Health, Social Welfare, and Public Health & Engineering, highlighted the significance of the project and pledged support across ministries to address the issues related to women’s well-being and productivity.

As a gesture of gratitude, tokens of appreciation and shields were presented to guest speakers and team members of Water-Aid, Pakistan. The event not only celebrated the accomplishments of the HerWASH project but also ignited a commitment to continued efforts to ensure women’s dignity and well-being across Pakistan.

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