At least 30 per cent adolescent girls miss their schools during menstruation due to lack of appropriate facilities and support in the schools to manage menstruation, according to a government survey.
Besides, at least 64 per cent schoolgirls are not provided with menstrual health education at their schools, found the National Hygiene Survey 2018.
The findings were disclosed at a discussion on the Menstrual Hygiene Day 2019 at the Department of Public Health Engineering.
The DPHE and UNICEF organised the discussion in observance of the day to raise awareness about menstrual hygiene.
Presenting the keynote paper, DPHE executive engineer Sharmistha Debnath said the rate of schoolgirls missing schools due to menstruation was 30 per cent in 2018, which was 40 per cent in 2014.
The rate of schools providing menstrual health education was found to be 36 per cent in 2018, compared with 6 per cent in 2014.
Besides, the rate of girls who have heard about menstruation before their menarche was 53 per cent in 2018, which was 36 per cent in 2014.
Commenting on the findings, Local Government Division’s senior secretary Ghulam Farooque said that there had been progress in the indicators related to schoolgirls’ menstrual hygiene management but there still remained a long way to go for overcoming the barriers concerning menstruation.
The factors that compel girls to absent from school include their attitude towards menstruation, misconceptions about it, lack of necessary facilities at the school, and family restrictions [on them to attend school during menses], experts said.
Enabling the girls to manage menstruation at the school by providing knowledge and management methods prior to menarche, privacy and a positive social environment around menstrual issues has the potential to benefit the girl students by making them reduce school absence, they said.
Farooque said a provision of separate wash facilities at the schools for girls and boys is crucially important and the government is working on it.
He said construction of separate wash facilities was completed at 32,000 primary schools and the work is going on at 65,000 more such schools.
Speaking as chief guest, State Minister for Rural Development and Cooperatives Swapan Bhattacharjee said there are taboos and misconceptions regarding menstruation though it is a part of life for girls and women.
‘It is unfortunate that still we cannot openly discuss menstruation in the family and in the social sphere,’ he said.
Swapan said menstrual hygiene is related to a healthy reproductive life of women who form the 50 per cent of the population, adding that healthy menstrual hygiene is crucial for achieving women empowerment, gender equality, and an overall development of the country.
DPHE chief engineer Saifur Rahman and Local Government Division additional secretary Roxana Quader, among others, spoke.