Reaching out to adolescent girls in Madhya Pradesh, India
As soon as we received the ‘go-ahead’ on the project roll-out, we held an internal briefing exercise that included senior management staff and the coordinators at districts level. Part of this process is the approval of receipt of foreign funds to the Indian government which can sometimes take more than 90 days. During this process we have been working on developing the macro-plan of the project and preparing the materials for training/outreach. Highlights of the plan include: Drawing up of key project activities, ascertain the number of adolescent girls per school per districts and clearing trainings with each district government and school authority. The last month has been focused on preparing and printing the design and materials of the outreaches Subjects include: what is an adolescent, the changes in adolescents-physical, emotional psychological and social, diets in adolescents and importance of diets, iron deficiency – anemia, personal hygiene, menstrual cycle – misconceptions.
Risks and challenges
Despite the fact that both govt. and civil society organizations have dealt with several areas of maternal and child health, adolescents’ health has always been on the margins. Required programmatic sensitivities and consensus needed to be built in close partnerships with both health and education administrations at policy level and with the front line workers on the ground. Women-centered issues and leading a community-based discussion about such themes that are still considered ‘taboo’ in societies that we work with. Both presently and in future, we need to be careful not to overstep on any of the culturally sensitive contexts, so that basic harmony of the cultural paradigm that we work in, is not distorted at all.
“Nice to be part of such a futuristically appropriate program that would prepare adolescent girl for accepting the challenges of motherhood and would deal with the myths and misconceptions of their minds” (Radha Chouhan, District Coordinator) ”Educating adolescent girls is like empowering future mothers.” (Savitri Kajle, Community Nutrition Educator) “I am quite excited, looking at the vulnerability of women in general, this is a special intervention”. (Rakesh Dhole, Project Manager)
So far we have been able to draw a nice blueprint of the project implementation plan. A few activities that we need to undertake in near future include: Conducting Training of Trainers (TOTs) Development, finalization & production of BCC materials Take off with actual training of adolescents’ girls Implement monitoring & MIS systems
Less than $500 has been spent thus far, mostly in preparation of the materials and traveling to clear trainings with all of the district government and education officials. The bulk of the spending will begin in January of 2015 when Indian authorities clear usage of foreign funds and trainings commence.
Girls in rural India are given little information about the physical, emotional, and social changes that go along with puberty and adolescence.
Why we care: Proper education and guidance during this developmental phase has critical implications that affect individuals, families and entire communities.
How we're solving this: Providing adolescent girls with a safe place to ask questions, find their voice, and understand their feelings empowers them to reach their full potential and become strong leaders and contributors to their families and communities.
Over the past year, Real Medicine Foundation (RMF) has developed a successful format for implementing an adolescent education curriculum through a close working partnership with district administrators and community leaders. RMF began working in the Madhya Pradesh area of India in 2009, achieving remarkable success combating malnutrition by empowering local women as educators and leaders.
With the feedback of local community leaders, RMF determined a critical lack of adolescent education for girls. With a pilot program already completed, the roadmap is clear, but we need your help to make it happen.
By contributing to this project, you’ll help empower adolescent girls in rural India through an interactive workshop that reinforces the normalcy of puberty and helps create a positive cycle of education from generation to generation, helping transform young women into community health leaders.
This project will:
- Conduct workshops at 50 schools, reaching approximately 1,500 students.
- Distribute brochures and pamphlets on adolescence, nutrition, and maternal health to 1,500 adolescent girls.
- Train an RMF staff of 50 on adolescence and other topics for school workshops.
On September 1, 2012, the first workshop was conducted in the community hall in Bhagyapur Village with 44 girls from the 10th grade attending. The curriculum covered:
- What is Adolescence?
- The Changes in Adolescence - Physical, Emotional, Psychological and Social
- Iron Deficiency – Anemia
- Diet in Adolescence – Importance of Diet
- Menstrual Cycle – Misconceptions
- Personal Hygiene
The highlight of the day was a play enacted by RMF facilitators that centered on a village girl who has reached puberty and experiences stress and confusion about this sudden change in her body. The girl approaches the Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (village nurse) who clarifies her doubts, answers her questions, and assures her that there is nothing abnormal in these changes. The girls could relate to the character of the girl in the role-play and responded very well to the example.
The feedback on the workshops was very positive and the girls’ teacher shared that she had never attended such a workshop where it was possible to talk about the issues openly, and where questions and concerns were handled with such sensitivity.