Personal Reflection on the Strategy Workshop on Dignified Menstruation for SRHR
Written by Julia Ambos: A B.Sc. Student at the University of Applied Sciences in Fulda
The Strategy Workshop unfolded from November 19th to 24th, 2023, in the enchanting locale of Sauraha, Chitwan. Organized by the Radha Paudel Foundation and fueled by the solidarity of the Global South Coalition for Dignified Menstruation, the workshop aimed at championing menstrual dignity for sexual reproductive health and rights across diverse communities. Partner organizations were invited to participate, fostering vibrant discussions and knowledge exchange. The event concluded with a comprehensive action plan for programs in Kathmandu, Jumla, and Serlahi, with a key focus on establishing women’s groups, child groups, and men’s groups. This initiative aims to share the valuable insights and knowledge gained during the workshop, fostering a community-driven approach to menstrual dignity and reproductive health in these diverse regions.
The collaborative efforts of the Radha Paudel Foundation, Global South Coalition for Dignified Menstruation, and partner organizations, namely CPO and Pace Nepal, exemplified the strength of solidarity in advancing a shared mission.
In my role as an intern from Germany, I was genuinely excited about the prospect of actively participating in the establishment of the action plan during the workshop. Moreover, I looked forward to engaging in meaningful conversations with participants and learning from their diverse range of menstrual experiences. The opportunity to contribute to and draw from this collective pool of knowledge was both enriching and insightful, fostering a cross-cultural exchange that I was eager to be a part of.
Outline of the workshop
On the first day the workshop unfolded with an immersive introduction game, fostering a sense of engagement and collaboration among participants. Establishing norms was pivotal in creating a conducive environment for the shared exploration that lay ahead. The discussion on the baseline survey served as the initial building block, providing a comprehensive understanding of the context. The journey took a reflective turn as a meditation session encouraged participants to delve into the intricacies of their individual menstrual narratives.
Adding a creative twist to the narrative, participants embarked on a unique exercise. They vividly expressed their experiences through the metaphor of a menstrual river, skilfully navigating through the highs and lows of their menstruation journey. This activity became a powerful medium for capturing a spectrum of emotions, ranging from moments of joy to the challenges that accompanied their menstrual experiences.
On the second day, participants engaged in a vivid portrayal of the 24-hour experience encompassing their monthly menstruation cycles. This immersive activity provided a profound insight into the diverse challenges faced by individuals throughout this crucial time. Group sessions delved into the intricate landscape of menstrual practices, unraveling the nuances within schools, communities, and workplaces.
The day continued with a dynamic quiz competition, injecting an element of fun into the learning process. Insights on effective teaching strategies for community outreach further enriched the participants’ knowledge base. A pivotal aspect emphasized during these discussions was the importance of using inclusive language and dispelling discriminatory terms. This emphasis aimed at fostering a more empathetic and understanding dialogue surrounding menstruation, promoting an environment of dignity and respect.
Day 3 marked a pivotal exploration into the intricate interplay of menstruation, power dynamics, and discrimination. Participants delved into the operational dynamics of menstrual discrimination as a form of gender-based violence, unravelling its multifaceted impact on individuals and communities.
The agenda included engaging case studies, the ‘3 Ps’ approach (focusing on Person, Planet, and Pocket), and comprehensive discussions on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). These sessions illuminated the interconnectedness of dignified menstruation with broader societal issues.
Day 4 served as a reflective juncture, prompting participants to contemplate the widespread impact of menstrual discrimination and reinforcing the notion that dignified menstruation is a shared responsibility. The session incorporated practical insights into promoting dignified menstruation through various platforms such as websites, newsletters, and social media, emphasizing the importance of leveraging digital channels for advocacy.
In-depth discussions unfolded around the existing policies on menstruation in Nepal, providing a nuanced understanding of the legislative landscape. The participants collectively envisioned a world free from menstrual stigma, underlining the imperative for creating Dignified Menstruation-friendly institutions. This day encapsulated a holistic approach, intertwining real-world applications with the overarching vision of a society where menstruation is perceived with dignity and devoid of discrimination.
Day 5 marked a strategic turn, centering on the meticulous planning required to embed menstrual dignity into the very core of communities. Deliberations spanned various settings, encompassing schools, community groups, and beyond, with the overarching objective of eliminating menstrual discrimination and nurturing open conversations about menopause.
The workshop set an ambitious target: to revolutionize the attitudes of 80% of people within communities over a three-year period. This required a comprehensive approach, advocating for the inclusion of menstrual education in school curricula to ensure a sustainable and widespread impact.
The culmination of the workshop on the final day was the creation of a robust action plan and a well-considered funding strategy. Armed with new knowledge and effective strategies, participants emerged ready to take the lead in initiatives to promote menstrual dignity. Their commitment extended beyond individual change to include entire communities. The intended impact reached global proportions as participants pledged to advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights, contributing to a paradigm shift in societal perceptions and practices. The final day embodied the overarching goal of the workshop – to inspire positive change at scale, transcending borders and fostering a world where menstrual dignity is upheld universally.
The diversity in age among participants, spanning from 19 to 70, was truly remarkable. It created a rich tapestry of experiences and insights, showcasing the varied perspectives that different generations bring to the table. The wealth of information shared during discussions reflected the power of intergenerational dialogue and the importance of learning from one another.
On a personal note, the guided meditation and artistic activities left a lasting impression. These moments of introspection provided a unique space to delve into my own menstrual journey. It wasn’t just a walk down memory lane; it was a transformative experience that allowed me to reframe my relationship with menstruation positively. These activities, for me, were an absolute highlight, demonstrating the profound impact that intentional reflection can have on our personal narratives.
Interacting with fellow participants further enhanced the experience. The exchange of stories and the shared understanding that emerged created a sense of unity. It reinforced the idea that despite our different backgrounds and individual journeys, there is a common thread that connects us through the universal experience of menstruation.
The workshop’s impact reverberated beyond its duration, leaving participants equipped with the tools and perspectives needed to implement dignified menstruation into their programs. The emphasis on inclusive language, dispelling discriminatory terms, and fostering open dialogues underscored the workshop’s commitment to addressing menstruation as a human rights concern. The strategic planning and financial considerations on the final day marked the beginning of a collective journey towards transforming communities and advocating for SRHR and dignified menstruation.