The website will serve as a forum to discuss awareness activities being undertaken throughout Tamil Nadu

Menstrual Hygiene Management Consortium (MHMC), Tiruchi, that has been creating awareness of women’s hygiene in schools, colleges, and among self-help-groups since its inception in 2010 has launched a website to strengthen networking among government departments and non-governmental agencies for better reach of its initiatives.

District Education Officer A. Pugazhendi launched the website on Saturday during the inaugural session of the menstrual hygiene management workshop organised to coincide with annual general body meeting of the consortium. The website, according to the consortium’s president N. Manimekalai, Professor, Department of Women’s Studies, Bharathidasan University, would serve as a forum for discussing awareness activities being undertaken throughout the State.

Regional coordinators would upload information about the programmes on women’s hygiene and the impact of the State government’s pioneering scheme for free supply of sanitary napkins to adolescent girls, post-natal mothers at government hospitals, and primary health centres, and women prisoners. With the slogan “sanitation for dignity, environmental hygiene and women empowerment”, the consortium has been facilitating women SHGs to make cost effective and hygienic sanitary napkins, campaigning for women-friendly toilets in all public places in coordination with all stakeholders including the government, and prevailing upon women to ensure hygienic environment through safe disposal of sanitary napkins.

The need to sensitise policy makers on sanitation, health and hygiene, and campaigning for adoption of good MHM practices with appropriate government policies and programmes figures first in the 10-point Tiruchi Declaration the MHMC adopted after it was formed with UNICEF support following a series of workshops organised by the Women’s Studies department. The website was launched in keeping with the declaration. The declaration calls for removing social stigma and cultural taboos attached to menstruation; sensitising public through the media on MHM; coordinating with different government departments for availing the benefits of existing schemes for promoting sanitary napkin production as a micro enterprise; and recommendation for differential interest rates for self-help groups to establish production units.

As a follow-up to the recent training programme it conducted for women block resource teachers employed under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, the MHMC has submitted a proposal for Memorandum of Understanding with the school education department to provide training to teachers. Two teachers in each school would be trained on all hygienic aspects for the purpose of constituting MHM councils in individual schools. For every standard at secondary and higher secondary levels, there would be four students in the council for effective propagation of hygienic practices through sensitisation programmes, Prof. Manimekalai said.

Kannaghi Chandrasekar, outgoing president of MHMC and Chairperson of Women NGO; Sujatha Karunakaran, Deputy General Manager, Canara Bank Circle Office, Tiruchi; Rani Muralidharan, CII Tiruchi Zone Chairperson, MHMC; R. Vasantha, District Maternal Officer, Tiruchi; and V. Sujatha, Executive Committee Member, MHMC, addressed the participants. At the annual general body meeting that followed, Prof. Manimekalai was sworn in as the new president and Rani Muralidharan as vice president of MHMC. Thamil Selvi, medical practitioner, and Bhuvana of Women NGO, were elected to the posts of secretary and treasurer respectively.