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Pakistan: UNICEF Implementing Partner for Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Research

MHM Research Presented at SACOSAN 7: April 10, 2018

April 11, 2018
Afshan Bhatti and Deanna Boulard

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RMF Pakistan's Afshan Bhatti presenting at SACOSAN 7

RMF Pakistan's Afshan Bhatti presenting at SACOSAN 7

RMF Pakistan’s Research


On April 10, 2018, RMF Pakistan Program Manager Afshan Bhatti presented at the seventh South Asian Conference on Sanitation. The topic of her presentation was “Path to an Equal World: Mainstreaming MHM in Education and Health.”

Afshan emphasized that menstrual hygiene management (MHM) is a fundamental human right and is essential in achieving equality for women in any field. Girls from rural and urban communities need to have a voice in development of policies and plans. Afshan’s presentation was based on her research with RMF, including the recommendations provided by girls for mainstreaming MHM in health and education. She concluded that every girl and woman should be allowed to access accurate and pragmatic information on MHM to enable them to exercise choice.

As part of the research project, a Pakistan Girls’ Puberty Book is being developed to provide girls with accurate, practical information on puberty. The book is currently at the provincial ministries for approval as a supplementary reader.

Afshan will speak again at SACOSAN 7 on April 12, 2018 on the theme of “The Sociology of Sanitation.”

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+  View Objectives
  • To describe local cultural understandings and meanings of menarche in urban and rural Pakistan through the use of ethnographic observations, interviews, and participatory activities with adolescent young women and the adults who play key roles in the lives of school-aged young women.
  • To explore, through comparative case studies of young women’s lives, the ways in which local cultural meanings about menarche and menstruation interact with sanitary technology, school design, and peer group relations, creating intolerable menstrual-related stigma that leads to young women dropping out of school.
  • To utilize adolescent young women’s own recommendations for improving the pubertal and menstrual management-related guidance adolescent girls receive through the development of a girls’ puberty book in Pakistan.
+  View Background

The intersections between menarche and education in Pakistan are still poorly understood. Nonetheless, existing reports suggest the dominance of male students in middle and high schools, and the absence of other “girl friendly” supports in the schooling environment are causes, e.g. water is rarely available in rural schools in Pakistan, with 75% of hand pumps and 28% of latrines being non-functional. Furthermore, female students lack separate, private latrines, and they often are attacked, sexually harassed, or shamed when waiting to use lavatory services, posing yet another barrier to school attendance. Female students may also have difficulty accessing sanitary materials owing to their high cost, especially if male family members make most major household purchases, as is the case in the majority of households in Pakistan. Given that menarche may be jeopardizing young women’s schooling and health in Pakistan, it is both timely and important to better understand the relationship between menstruation, education, and health for young Pakistani women, and to improve pubertal transitions.

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