- September 30, 2022
- Amulya Aluru
Designing and Implementing Menstrual Health Workshops in South Indian Government Schools
Over the summer, Amulya Aluru (EECS '23) traveled to multiple schools in India to teach 6th, 7th, and 8th grade girls about menstrual health and other important health topics. Keep reading to hear from Amulya about her project and experience in India this summer!
Comprehensive sexual health education at a young age is key to empowering adolescents and ensuring self-confidence and self-respect. Specifically, education centered around menstrual health is especially crucial to reduce patriarchal stigmas regarding menstruation and provide spaces for all menstruating individuals to feel comfortable in their bodies. However, access to proper sexual health curricula is often contingent upon socioeconomic status, quality of education, and social environment. Thus, learning about one’s body becomes a privilege instead of the norm.
In order to address this, my sister and I designed and implemented a menstrual health workshop taught in the local language for middle school girls in two government schools located in Andhra Pradesh, India. These sessions, which we conducted in August 2022, consisted of discussions about puberty, menstruation, and sexual harassment. We emphasized the importance of clean menstrual health products, being confident with one’s changing body, and the absolute right to consent.
As we were planning the workshops, MISTI India connected us with Myna Mahila, a women’s empowerment nonprofit operating out of a different part of India. This organization, in addition to employing local women, conducts menstrual health education sessions across India. After speaking with them, we were able to refine our workshop curricula to better target an audience of Indian students, a demographic we were not very familiar with. Additionally, with the help of MISTI India, we were able to give each girl who attended our workshops a pack of sanitary pads for their personal use.
While we were only able to visit these schools for a short time period, I hope this interactive workshop gave the young women we spoke to a deeper understanding of the support networks present in their school and community. Further, by openly and confidently discussing topics that are generally considered taboo, I also hope we demonstrated that there should be no stigma attached to any aspect of women’s health and that menstruation is a powerful, beautiful aspect of puberty.
This was our first time conducting a workshop like this, and it was a very effective and rewarding way of connecting with young women and starting conversations around menstrual health, agency, and puberty. In my last year at MIT and after I graduate, I aim to expand this project to other government schools in India and design more workshops to educate students of all genders about sexual and reproductive health.