Inclusive toilets for children and women with disabilities
In what will be a first of its kind, disabled adolescent girls in Changangkha and Khuruthang secondary schools will have separate toilets to help them manage good menstrual hygiene (MHM).
Construction of the toilets, which would be inclusive, has begun and is expected to be completed by the end of this year. These toilets would be replicated in three other schools.
Once completed, the toilets are expected to benefit 139 children with disabilities.
According to a joint press release from the Ministry of Education and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), menstruating girls and women with different types of disabilities found it difficult to place their sanitary pads in the right place. position and to wash themselves, their clothes and their sanitary material.
A 2018 study of knowledge, attitudes and practices on MHM for adolescent girls and nuns found that teachers advised parents to keep their children with disabilities at home during menstruation because schools were not sufficiently equipped to support children with special needs during menstruation.
There are 33 schools across Bhutan with 865 children with special educational needs of which 491 are adolescent girls. Of the 33 schools, 24 are designated as inclusive schools or schools with special education programs (SEN).
The School Health and Nutrition Division (SHND) of the Ministry of Education and UNICEF are constructing inclusive toilets with WASH facilities in SEN schools.
International Menstrual Hygiene Day marked
On International Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28, Royal Patron of Red Dot Bhutan, Her Royal Highness Princess Eeuhelma Choden Wangchuck encouraged boys and men to create an environment conducive to menstruation in all schools in Bhutan so that all girls and women have access to inclusive toilets.
“Red Dot Bhutan calls on our boys and men to champion the campaign to deconstruct the stigma and misconceptions associated with menstruation. We urge you to normalize the word ‘periods’ and encourage you to challenge myths, misconceptions and practices that allow fear, shame and stigma during menstruation,” said HRH Princess Eeuhelma Choden Wangchuck. “We ask that you continue to advocate and provide support to improve effective menstrual hygiene management.”
During the event, themed “We Commit – Men Take the Lead”, Her Royal Highness Princess Eeuhelma Choden Wangchuck presented awards to 11 schools and certificates of appreciation to more than 10 influencers and supporters (men) who helped defend the MHM in Bhutan. .
Seeing the need for more action and investment in menstrual hygiene, Red Dot Bhutan is now taking its call for action.
Red Dot Bhutan with its partners also carried out various activities to support learning without having to experience unnecessary stress, shame or barriers surrounding menstrual hygiene in schools this school year.
The Ministry of Education and its partners distributed 2,000 menstrual cups, 17,000 reusable sanitary napkins, 500 sanitary tampons and 5,500 disposable sanitary napkins to 139 schools to protect the health and well-being of 2,700 adolescent girls.
SHND chief Karma Wangchuk said more than 1,000 reusable dignity kits had been distributed to students at five schools.
He added that a reusable dignity kit included underwear, reusable towels and bags to store clothes.
Under the patronage of HRH Princess Eeuhelma Choden Wangchuck, Red Dot Bhutan is an advocacy platform to raise awareness about MHM and de-stigmatize menstruation. It is led by the Ministry of Education in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Dratshang Lhentshog, Bhutan Nuns Foundation, RENEW, SNV and UNICEF.
“Among others, Red Dot Bhutan’s advocacy led to the institutionalization of menstrual health and hygiene in the health and physical education curriculum in schools and Parliament endorsed the call for exoneration of taxes on all menstrual products,” the press release read.
Photo: The Royal Patron of Red Dot Bhutan, Her Royal Highness Princess Eeuhelma Choden Wangchuck attended the event to mark International Menstrual Hygiene Day themed ‘We Commit – Men Take the Lead’, the May 28 in Thimphu.
Her Royal Highness Princess Eeuhelma Choden Wangchuck encouraged boys and men to create a rules-friendly environment in all schools in Bhutan so that all girls and women have access to inclusive toilets.