The Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Working Group in Pakistan held the first national level training of trainers this past January in a move to support the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector to mainstream and promote the health of women and girls. More than 70 participants from across the country are now able to cascade knowledge to provincial and community levels.
Both public sector and development partner staff received the training and developed action plans to carry out further training sessions upon returning home. The cadre of master trainers is expected to, in turn, train health workers, school teachers, WASH practitioners and community members.
As the first event of its kind at national level, the training has also played a key role in opening discussion on women’s health and helping to break the silence around menstruation. “Yes, this is a sensitive topic, but it is very important and we must start to talk about menstruation”, noted Virginia Kamowa, WSSCC Senior Technical Expert on MHM, as she led the training team in Islamabad.
The training included male participants and focused sessions on the role men can play in MHM. “Men need to understand the needs of women and girls in the home, in school, in the community so that women receive support”, said one male participant at the training.
The training was endorsed by the Clean Green Pakistan Movement, the government’s new national campaign, led by the Ministry of Climate
Change, to achieve a clean environment in Pakistan and support the achievement of related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) included SDG 6.2.
The seven-day event was supported by a group of sector partners including WSSCC, Unicef, GTZ, WaterAid and several national development organizations. The event was spearheaded by WSSCC’s National Coordinator, Tanya Khan in her capacity as Chair of the MHM Working Group. A WSSCC international training team facilitated the training and provided materials, which were adapted to the local context by members of the MHM Working Group. Other organizations and the Ministry of health were also given an opportunity to present MHM related initiatives they have undertaken before including development of simple MHM education materials; MHM in Health CARE facilities; MHM in Emergencies; Safe reuse and/or disposal of used sanitary materials.
The MHM Working group and its Provincial level chapters will continue to support the roll out of MHM training and the promotion of MHM mainstreaming into sanitation work at all levels. A participant from the Federal Directorate of Education said:
“We should be very committed to implementing MHM training and passing on all that we have learned from this training of trainers. People must know the health and hygiene implications of menstruation”.