Page 32 - MHM Report-2023
P. 32

Men as Allies:

            Counselling the males of the household

                   y the time she had her first period,       on post-intervention gains suggest that the best
                   Vishwanath’s wife was already living at her   outcome of the MHM programme so far has been
            Bin-laws’ house. “Both of us were unaware         that women are able to speak to their husbands
            of menstruation and thought it was an ailment,”   and male relatives openly about menstrual
            says Vishwanath, a resident of Nawgoiya village in   issues for the first time.
            Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh.                   For Mohanlal and Nolakidevi Grasia, a
                With the low average age of marriage in       tribal couple based in rural Rajasthan, these
            rural India, millions of young boys and girls     couple counselling sessions proved to be an
            find themselves in a marital bond, but unaware    eye-opener. “For the first time, I understood the
            of menstruation or its biology. Aware of these    process of menstruation and the trouble my wife
            realities, the Tata Trusts’ MHM programme aims    goes through when it occurs,” says Mohanlal,
            to involve men equally in its awareness campaigns.   who is now on a mission to educate other male
            Correct scientific knowledge and know-how on      members of his community.
            extending the required support needs to be given      Given that the decision-making powers
            to men, so that they can provide the required     often lie with men in many rural and semi-urban
            supportive socio-cultural environment for women   setups, MHM programmes tend to richly gain
            to make informed decisions and manage their       from their involvement. Leading a mission similar
            menstruation with dignity.                        to Mohanlal’s, is Arun Mishra, who attended a
                Vishwanath’s participation in the programme   Tata Trusts MHM counselling session organised
            changed his views. He was able to access the right   for men in his village, Rampur Paida, in Uttar
            information on menstruation and the methods to    Pradesh’s Shravasti district. “I was unaware of
            handle it hygienically through these interventions.   what my wife, Sangeeta, had to go through during
            Quick to spring to action, he made his first      her periods. The counselling session helped me
            purchase of a cloth pad for his wife right after the   understand things better,” he says.
            session. He says that these sessions have helped      The 27-year-old is now a votary of hygienic
            him learn about the various products available    menstrual practices, sharing poems and write-
            and to make the right product choice. “I chose the   ups to break the silence surrounding the
            cloth pad as it would suit my budget while also   subject. “It’s not just a woman’s responsibility
            supporting my wife’s health,” he says.            to eliminate the stigma around menstruation,”
                Couple counselling sessions have proved       he insists.
            to be an effective route to rope men into the         Bhura Ram, a landless labourer from
            MHM interventions. This brings women and          Mandwara Khalsa of Rajasthan’s Sirohi district
            their husbands together, helping them initiate    and his wife, are yet another success story of the
            conversations on this taboo subject. This is key to   MHM couple counselling. Bhura, along with his
            helping the women make informed choices with      wife Sepi Devi attended the couple counselling
            their husbands’ support.                          sessions, which helped him transform his
                Findings from Tata Water Mission’s research   views about menstruation. “Earlier I was not

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