Unpacking the policy landscape for menstrual hygiene management: implications for school WASH programmes in India
Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) relates to how girls and women manage their monthly period, and require access to information about menstruation, clean and safe menstrual absorbents, and amenities and facilities such as toilets and water, and waste management to maintain hygiene. In general MHM is poor in India, with low levels of knowledge and many misconceptions, varied use of menstrual absorbents, and unhygienic practices among adolescent girls. With almost 50 per cent of school age girls enrolled in schools, creating a conducive environment in schools to promote MHM is imperative. This policy scoping exercise examines how select policy initiatives implemented by the Government of India address MHM, especially in the context of schools. This document review found that adolescent girls are a focus of most policy initiatives addressing MHM, with a focus primarily on the hardware (i.e. infrastructure, sanitary napkins) or software (i.e. health education) components. Most programmes are implemented at the school level, though guidelines for implementation are not always explicit. Programmes suggest convergence with other government programmes, yet operationalization of convergence mechanisms is lacking.