It's not something shameful!

A participatory photography workshop aims to break the taboos surrounding menstruation with active participation of seven teenaged girls who click pictures of how they are treated during their periods and what they wish would change


April — I was ready for a Participatory Photography Project led by WaterAid Nepal on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in Sirthauli, Sindhuli. We were in Duda for a month teaching seven young girls — Rabina, Bisestha, Sabina, Manisha, Bandhana, Rita and Sushma — about photography and menstrual hygiene. The idea was to see how they felt during their periods and what they would capture to reflect it in the photographs.

Holding camera for first time

When we handed cameras to the seven teenagers, it was the first time they had held a camera and the excitement was priceless. Each was inquisitive, some getting restless to switch their camera on, some asked about what the little drawings on the camera options meant. They asked about display, how to insert memory cards, batteries and every possible question. At the same time they were excited about having their own camera and that they were going to document their issues and experiences related to menstrual taboos through pictures.

As we assessed the changes, we realised an innovative way of outweighing one’s thought process can be achieved through education. For this particular project, the medium we chose was to educate through photography. How photography impacted their thought process was more visible if you compared it with regular classroom learning session. Hence, we need more innovative and creative ideas to educate young generations. To talk about such a feminine issue was made more relatable with photography in this context.

More than ‘just a day’ is knowledge

The World Menstrual Hygiene Day is marked on May 28 and many campaigns and initiatives are being carried on around the globe to promote safe and hygienic practices during menstruation.

What is super important is to equally disseminate knowledge regarding menstrual hygiene among males and females. It is also very important for every family to liberate their daughters first and to let them know that menstruation is something they should be proud of. It is also important for all of us to know that bleeding is just as normal as having any other bodily changes during puberty.

A liberal mindset starts from the ability to absorb positivity from small efforts and steps. These changes can have greater impacts once girls start to feel that they are not being restricted just because they bleed.