The launching event was organised by the Ritu programme team and the Government’s Access to Information (a2i) project. Among the guests we welcomed Nurul Islam Nahid, Member of Parliament and Minister of Education, Leoni Margaretha Cuelenaere, Ambassador at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Professor Dr. S.M. Wahiduzzaman, Director General, Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education, Ministry of Education and Professor Dr. Abul Kalam Azad, Director General, Directorate of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare Bangladesh.
The launch event was organised to raise awareness about the barriers faced by the women and girls during their menstruation. The event gave the opportunity to address the poor status of school toilets, teachers’ inability to teach the sensitive issues such as menstruation, and promoted the role of Ritu to change the existing menstrual health situation. The Ritu programme is initiator of the Menstrual Health Platform, that brings together organisations from different sectors that work on menstrual health, such as WASH, SRHR, education and private sector. The platform jointly advocates to the government to 1) making menstrual health a policy priority; 2) include menstrual health in the NCTB (National Curriculum Textbook Board) and in the National Teachers Training Curriculum; 3) making all schools’ toilet menstrual hygiene friendly.
Leoni Margaretha Cuelenaere, Ambassador at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands: “Girls and women can’t go to school or to the work place during their menstruation. This is a big barrier for the empowerment of women and girls. Ritu is a bright example of Government and NGO collaboration. We hope Ritu will change the poor situation of menstrual health’’
In his address, the Minister said, no new school will get the permission to run if they do not have separate and menstrual hygiene friendly toilets for girls. The Ritu programme will follow up on the commitment of the Minister as this is an important step to improve menstrual health situation for girls in Bangladesh.
Together with RedOrange -a Bangladeshi media and communication agency, knowledge institute TNO, and with support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN), Simavi implements the Ritu programme in Bangladesh.