< Back to All Articles

Menstrual Stigma In Nepal: Key Insights (Part 2)

In November 2020 and February 2021, Days for Girls Nepal (DfGN) partnered with Rural Senses, a monitoring and evaluation company, to speak to girls and women in the Kalikot region of Nepal about what cultural beliefs and practices surround menstruation, its connection to menstrual health (MH), and how MH can impact cultural beliefs and practices surrounding menstruation.

These discussions constituted the second portion of a two-phase process. During the first phase, Rural Senses collected data from two villages that had not yet participated in DfG programming (to serve as a “control group”). Key insights from this phase may be found in a past DfG blog post, which outlines the MH obstacles women face in cultural, financial and educational spheres within the region.

Based on the data gathered and analyzed by Rural Senses in phase two, Nepali women that participated in Days for Girls (DfG) guided women’s circle discussions about cultural beliefs and practices, and DfG programming (receiving both DfG washable pads and MH education) were found to be more likely to experience positive outcomes related to empowerment, reductions in menstrual stigma, and overall MH knowledge and practices when compared to the control group that received no DfG programming.

The information provided by the study – including the key findings presented below – demonstrate the connection between DfGN’s menstrual health education and kits; the increase of menstrual knowledge, menstrual hygiene practices, security and safety for women and girls; and the reduction of Chhaupadi (a term literally translated as “cow-shed,” but that also represents menstruation prejudice more generally in the country) in the region.

  • Key Conclusion: In communities that engaged in Days for Girls’ services, 60% fewer women say they practiced Chhaupadi compared to non-DfG participating women, which demonstrates success in destigmatizing menstruation and overall shifts in community attitudes surrounding this harmful practice.
      • Supporting Findings: More than 80% of DfG women participants reported feeling safer during menstruation now than they did before, due to DfG programming. 
  • Key Conclusion: Days for Girls programming efforts demonstrate that access to timely and accurate health information improves menstrual health knowledge and practices.
      • Supporting Findings: DfG women appeared to prioritize menstrual health more than other groups as DfG women reported being more aware of the importance of using pads, panties and soap to maintain cleanliness during menstruation. Additionally, 41% of DfG women started using menstrual pads following the trainings.
      • Supporting Findings: ​​70% of DfG women participants still use their DfG kit today, and value this as it provides privacy, cleanliness and enables girls to go to school during menstruation.
      • Supporting Findings: Compared to those who had not attended DfG programs, DfG women participants put more importance on attending school during menstruation, linking this to the use of reusable pads.
      • Supporting Findings: DfG programming improves understanding of menstruation and reproductive health, since approximately 70% of DfG women reported that they understand menstruation is a natural process that allows women to birth children. 
  • Key Conclusion: Days for Girls program intervention increases women’s self-esteem and empowers them to be decision-makers in their families and communities.
      • Supporting Findings: DfG women show higher self-worth and understanding of the value of women and menstruation. In response to the statement, “yes, women are as valuable as men in society,” there was a 16-point differential between those women who had not received DfG education and those who had: only 56% of the former affirmed the statement, compared to 70% of the latter.
      • Supporting Findings: Compared to two percent of DfG participants, 60% of non-DfG participant women were unaware of household income, which, one can assume, would mean that they would be less likely to influence expenditure. Alternatively, as DfG-participating women are more aware of household finances, one may assume that this knowledge is indicative of the women’s potential for financial decision making.

These findings show that holistic approaches to menstrual health inequities and disinformation can lead to long-term, positive results. Check out this PDF to learn more about the study’s specific findings.

Days for Girls
Days for Girls is an award-winning global NGO bringing menstrual health, dignity and opportunity to 3+ million girls (and counting!) worldwide.