The Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management Partners' Alliance (MHM PA) reflected upon the subject of menstrual hygiene on a zoom national conference on 28 May on occasion of International Menstruation Hygiene Day.

Issuing a press statement, MHA PA shared that in the conference titled 'Education for Dignified Menstruation', prevailing situation about the how this subject has been taken was discussed.

The conference which saw participation of about 350 attendees raised national issues related to menstruation, including pending draft of national policy on dignified menstruation, 2018; fragmented programme and projects of government agencies; prevailing taboos and required awareness and behaviour and limited scientific facts to bring changes. Likewise issues such as current text books being limited to biological dimensions; limited menstruation friendly facilities in the schools and publics institutions; dialogue not at desired level, lack of services and information on sexual minority and disable people; need of more disable friendly text books, information and extended services/facilities; tax exemption on pads specially to domestic productions; programme to minimise Chhaupadi traditions, too were brought to discussion.

National Conveyer at MHM PA, Guna Raj Shrestha shared few recommendations to the discussed issues, wherein he proposed to establish inter-ministerial coordination mechanism, wider consultation for approval and implementing of the national policy.

The other recommendations that were tabled include:

- formulation of MHM guidelines at the provincial and local levels

- setting dignified menstruation - SDG indicators

- including menstruation as key part of national campaign of 'Activism Against Gender based Violence (A-GBV)'

- exemption of taxes on the raw materials for domestic pads' production

- coordination with the WASH and Health Cluster for addressing menstruation issues during ongoing COVID pandemic

- free pad distribution to 1.4 million girls of public schools

- dignified menstruation in the revised school text books together with MHM education materials

- mainstreaming of dignified menstruation in the Total Sanitation Master Plan and subsequent campaign

- coordination mechanism with Development partners and MHM PA for joint planning and implementation of MHM interventions.

In the meeting, member of National Planning Commission, Dr Usha Jha announced to establish High Level Menstruation Coordination Mechanism and pass the Draft National Policy on Dignified Menstruation.

Similarly, Secretary of Ministry of Education, Shri Ram Prasad Thapaliya, on his part, committed to give continuity and intensify the dignified menstruation friendly projects in the education sector.

Meanwhile, Director General of the Curriculum Development Center, Ann Prasad Neupane shared that efforts are being made to introduce new MHM curriculum in all public schools from 2080 BS (2023 AD).

Furthermore, Ragishri Shrestha, Senior Officer of Health Training Center planned to put menstruation educational tool kits on Ministry's website.

Kunj Joshi, Head of National Health Information Communication Center, also committed to production and dissemination of menstruation education materials.

Additionally, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist at UNICEF, Siddhi Shrestha shared about implementing and advocating menstrual policies and programmes through state and local governments.

All in all the conference aimed to form a high-level dignified menstruation coordination mechanism and pass Draft National Policy on Dignified Menstruation.