Ten girls are keeping hundreds of girls in school in India.
Their bright blue vests signal their positions on the school Water and Sanitation Committee, but these girls are part of another important group – the Menstrual Hygiene Committee. Their aim is for the whole school to understand menstruation and menstrual hygiene management.
In India, 71% of girls report having no knowledge of what menstruation is until their first period. Once their periods come, 70% of females say they can’t afford pads, so many use reusable cloth instead – which is not often washed with soap or safe water. Many girls also lack privacy to change their pads during the school day. These factors, among many others, result in 23% of girls ages 12 to 18 dropping out of school.
The Menstrual Hygiene Committee in the Badamathura Haripriya High School in Patharpratima, West Bengal, is committed to ending this trend.
While their mandate on the Water and Sanitation Committee is to instill the importance of safe drinking water, toilets, and hygiene for the school’s 976 students, these girls are bringing an eye to what female students need: private washrooms, sanitary pads, and an incinerator to dispose of pads.