We believe that any change has to come from within the system, while we play the role of catalysts. Hence, our engagement with communities on menstrual hygiene is two-fold. During the 15 month fellowship, the fellows will initiate conversations around menstrual hygiene in schools, talking to a diverse group of adolescent girls and boys, while also creating awareness among teachers in the educational institutions they engage with. They will also train community workers to conduct similar sessions with women and men in communities.
The idea is to bring change by building an understanding of menstruation and issues that surround it. This will be done through dialogue and teaching-learning sessions which will include methodologies to ensure that the process is participatory and interactive.
To ensure long-term self-sustainability of this initiative, the fellows will introduce the peer learning model in each school they engage with. The peer learning model allows for self-sustainability of the project, with limited external intervention. The primary idea is that peer educators and learners share a degree of desire and empathy to help and learn from each other. The fellows and programme coordinators will work on capacity building of the peer learning group during the fellowship, so that the peer learning group can independently take the initiative forward with the incoming batches in future. In communities, the fellowship will partner with local organizations so that the trained community workers can continue to work with their communities beyond the duration of the program.
We, at Sukhibhava, constantly strive to engage with diverse groups of girls and women to create awareness on the subject of menstruation and bring about sustainable behavioural change. However, we also understand that there is a huge potential in men and boys to be allies of change themselves by breaking the taboo and talking about menstruation. The objective of the two-fold engagement is to initiate and sustain change.
The fellowship will begin with an intensive, four-week induction, after which the cohort will shift to their respective field locations. The fellowship is designed to be rigorous and thought provoking and our team will facilitate the transformation of gears in as smoothly as possible through the induction and training programme.
In the first month, the fellows spend time identifying and networking with schools and communities in the region, collecting specific data through a needs assessment. This period will also be utilised by the cohort in building relationships, to ensure that the logistics are in place for a smooth flowing fellowship period.
The following months are spent conducting sessions on menstrual hygiene with girls and teachers in educational institutions, while also forming peer learning groups, which will ensure sustainability of the programme. The fellows’ responsibility will also include managing and training Community Resource Persons (CRPs) for sessions with women in communities. The fellowship team will provide support to ensure stability on ground. While this is a working fellowship, is it simultaneously a leadership program which via activities through the year, will enable the fellows to build capacities to hone their potential to be long term leaders for menstruation and allied social issues.
Additionally, the fellowship will also involve retreats and performance reviews at regular intervals, which will bring the cohort together and allow them to engage with each other and share and learn from each other’s experiences.