Sri Ramalingar School
The lack of toilets in schools significantly impacts children’s education, health, emotional well-being, and security, and also plays a key role in perpetuating gender inequality. We wanted to highlight the work done by the charity Sanitation First, a world leader in ecological sanitation. They implement eco-san toilets in schools across India and educate both teachers and students about menstrual hygiene. These sustainable and affordable toilets have a 30 year lifespan and support the idea of a circular economy by safely converting waste into a soil conditioning compost and fertiliser.
“Educating girls is listed by Project Drawdown as the fifth most impactful solution we have to climate change”
This three step menstrual education program starts by training male and female teachers in menstrual health, hygiene, management and in creating a supportive school environment for girls during menstruation at school. In turn, the teachers train their students and lastly Safe pads are distributed to the girls. These reusable sanitary pads are designed with antimicrobial technology so that they are safe to be used even if washed in unclean water.
“In India, 1 in 5 girls drop out of school when they start their periods due to outdated cultural taboos and lack of sanitation”
Chief Executive of Sanitation First, Padmapriya comments:
Tirukurungudi Santhanam Padmapriya (M.Com, ACMA, MBA)
Through our programmes, we have taught over 11,500 students and trained 750 teachers. From the tests we conducted in the schools, we discovered that before our programmes 58% of girls and 28% of boys felt periods must be kept a secret. After, 91% of girls and 92% of boys felt periods were nothing to fear or feel ashamed about.
The girls we spoke to said that they were no longer dreading going to school during their cycle, they also mentioned having tried to break social taboos at home— they spoke to their mothers and grandmothers about the myths related to menstruation, asking them to not follow them anymore!
This Menstrual Hygiene Day, May 28th, Sanitation First is galvanising the world to face this inequality, in an entirely new way: reworking Barbara Kruger’s iconic feminist artwork ‘Your Body is a Battleground’ as an instagram filter.