By Digital Empowerment Foundation
Published on: April 18, 2023
Menstruation is still a taboo in many rural communities and digital means have helped in ensuring that the myths around it get busted and young girls and women are well informed about maintaining good menstrual health which otherwise would lead to health complications commonly seen in villages.
Digital Didi is a pan India program for empowering women with digital skills practicing reusable SmartPads and creating a healthy ecosystem for sustainable livelihoods. Digital Didi aims to address these two issues; women’s menstrual hygiene and women’s digital literacy with a unique method of reaching out to women and young girls. 350 Health SoochnaPreneurs will be engaging as facilitators and 35,000 rural women and adolescent girls will be digitally empowered through LMS Chatbot. So far we have been able to bring 25,893 women under the purview of a self-learning module on the LMS Chatbot.
Multiple trainings have been conducted to provide access to LMS Chatbot since January, 2023. Besides that, training on Menstrual Health and Hygiene, alongside introduction of SmartPad was done in the states of West Bengal (Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia) and Bihar (West Champaran). During the Capability Development training of the Digital Didi Program in 2 States of West Bengal (January) and Bihar (February), stories around menstrual health were shared by participants.
Rekha Khatun from Bhagawangola shared, “I got my first period when I was in class 10. All my friends had their periods before me. Few months before the menarche, I started facing the issue of stomach pain, which refused to go away. I was told by my sister that pain happens before menstruation, but even with that problem I didn’t get my first period. After the pain persisted for many months, I had to go to a doctor, and it was only after proper treatment and medication did I get my menses”. This was the first menstrual experience shared during the Capability Development training. After the training, the myths related were cleared, and SmartPads were distributed and demonstrated. Post the training, she is now driven enough to work as a Digital Didi in her Village.
Kumari Pratima from Bihar said, “I was studying in class 6 when I got my first period. A year before that, in class 5, one of my friends got her period. The girls at that time were using a code word like ‘Mamaji aa gaye hain’. When my friend got her period, she told me that her Mamaji (Maternal Uncle) had come. And saying the same to our teacher, she went home during the school hours. The next day a male teacher asked her for sweets (your uncle has come, where are the sweets). And that is when my friend explained that not her uncle has actually come home, rather it is a code word that they use to address menstruation secretly”. She has earlier intervened twice in the topic of menstrual health in her village, and is well aware of the nitty-gritty of working on the topic. So far, she has become very active in her field/village, and has been able to train around 60 women on the LMS Chatbot and Menstrual Health and Hygiene.