Fighting the tradition of Chhaupadi in Nepal: educational workshops help girls gain body confidence and integrate back into society
Chhaupadi is a form of menstrual taboo which prohibits Hindu women and girls from participating in normal family activities while menstruating, as they are considered "impure." This practice is especially prevalent in Western Nepal, and our NGO partner Be Artsy associates the upholding of Chhaupadi tradition with the lack of sexual and menstrual health education in that region.
To support Be Artsy’s efforts to normalize menstruation and break down social taboos, we have collaborated with them on their plan to fight Chhaupadi and provide Nepali girls with access to safe menstrual care products.
As part of their four-step plan, we:
1) Hold sex education workshops for both male and female teenagers at local schools.
2) Provide educational workshops to all women in targeted communities on healthy and hygienic menstrual health care practices.
3) Give away Ruby Cups and provide support on how to use and maintain them.
4) Host participative photography workshops to help the girls use art to express and showcase how they feel about their periods and the Chhaupadi tradition, and what they would like to change about their experience.
Following these educational workshops, many participants expressed an increased sense of body confidence which came with having a better understanding of the biological processes that drive the changes and cycles in their bodies. Many girls also felt better able to help other girls in the community understand their bodies, as well.
Participants that received Ruby Cups reported several different ways that Chhaupadi has changed for them since using the cup: because the menstrual cup collects their blood, they are considered clean, and thus many girls are now permitted to sleep inside the house, eat vegetables, and drink milk.
Most exciting of all, our follow up conversations with our partner in Western Nepal revealed that 93.5% of Ruby Cup recipients were still using their cups!