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One of the barriers girls face in getting an education has become known as ‘period poverty'. It refers to a limited or lack of access to safe period products, adequate menstrual education, and safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.

In Nepal, many girls from low-income families confront this barrier and end up dropping out of school due to the cost of safe sanitary products, cultural taboos, inaccurate information and education on menstrual health, and insufficient washing facilities and mixed toilets in schools.

Ehani was one of those girls at risk of dropping out of school due to period poverty. She shares her story below.

“I wanted to continue studying but it’s very difficult. We can’t buy sanitary pads. Attending school also becomes more difficult during periods”.

As a young girl, twelve-year-old Ehani just wants to get an education. But because of the hardships she faces at home, it often feels like a difficult goal to reach. Born in India, Ehani now lives with her grandmother and younger brother in a village in the Sunsari district of Nepal.

They live with her because when they were young, their mother left to live with another man and Ehani’s father was arrested and imprisoned.

Moving in with her grandmother hasn’t been easy and the family have little to live on. The only source of income is made by Ehani’s grandmother who supports the family by collecting and selling firewood from the jungle near their home.

“My grandmother walks barefoot to the jungle to collect firewood. In Dashain (a major Hindu festival observed in Nepal), when our friends and neighbours wear new clothes and eat delicious food, we want the same, but our situation doesn’t allow that”.

Ehani’s first menstruation only added to her problems. The income her grandmother makes is barely enough for their family to survive so they can’t afford to take care of Ehani’s menstrual health.

Together with our partner Voice of Children, we are working with schools in Nepal to address the barriers girls face in getting an education.

“Because of the availability of toilets and sanitary pads, I can now attend school during periods too. The toilets are much cleaner now.”

In Ehani’s school, we have built separate accessible toilets for girls and boys, the school surroundings are cleaner, and children are learning good sanitation and hygiene practices.

Girls also receive personal sanitation and hygiene kits from the school, which include soap, sanitiser, sanitary pads, and menstrual health pamphlets.

At her school, training on how to make reusable low-cost sanitary pads has been taking place which Ehani is eager to be part of to help her family, “I want to get further training to produce sanitary pads to sell. This can help reduce the financial burden on my grandmother.”

Clean Futures for Rural Children

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