The freedom of menstruation: assessing girls quality of life and experience of menstruation in indonesia

Pramana, Rezanti Putri; Dewi, Rika Kumala (2018). 'The Freedom of Menstruation: Assessing Girls Quality of Life and Experience of Menstruation in Indonesia' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2018.


Despite being an inevitable bodily function, menstruation continues to be perceived as a private and shameful matter. In certain cultures and beliefs, it is even considered as a taboo. Albeit the increasing attention placed upon the practice of an adequate menstruation hygiene management little is known on the impact of the interventions towards recipients’ quality of life after receiving the intervention aimed to enhance their menstrual hygiene management skills. Inadequate management of menstrual hygiene has been linked to a depleting quality of life since the experience of menarche has been observed to impact important aspect of life such as relationship, bodily health, participation in social activities, and subjective perception towards oneself.

Particularly among schoolchildren, it has led to an increase in school absenteeism and dropout rate among menstrual girls. Furthermore, it has also been observed to a reduction in their performance and participation at school, increase health risks and higher opportunity to be bullied.

Managing menstrual hygiene practice is defined as a practice whereby women and adolescent girls are using a clean material to absorb or collect blood, which also can be change in privacy and as often as necessary for the duration of the menstruation period. In addition, to ensure the hygienic aspect, the definition of MHM also includes the usage of soap and water for the washing of the body as required as well as having the proper access to dispose the menstrual management material.

In Indonesia, number of interventions have been implemented including dissemination of education on menstrual health management and the building of adequate WASH facilities. However, previous studies tend to focus solely on identifying patterns of behavioral changes due to the intervention while neglecting to also observe the impact towards recipients’ quality of life considering that MHM practices are significantly associated with one’s overall quality of life. Therefore, the current study aimed to analyse the impact of the currently implemented intervention which aimed to increase the adequacy of current MHM practice in both rural & urban region in Indonesia on girls overall quality of life. In this study, we will evaluate MHM intervention conducted by a non-governmental organization. The organization utilized a comprehensive approach in their intervention, not only through socialization but also utilizing other approaches such as through art performances, workshops and trainings for female students, teachers, parents, and male students. The intervention is expected to improve knowledge, attitudes, skills, and practices on MHM.

The study will adopt qualitative approach to obtained respondent’s perception through in-depth interview and focused group discussions with girls aged 10-12 years old who has been experiencing menstruation for at least 6 months, their parents, male students and teachers at school. NTT (Kabupaten Nagekeo) and DKI Jakarta (Kota Jakarta Barat) are selected as case study areas to represent rural and urban region in Indonesia. The data and information will be collected in March 2018.

The study will utilize Sen’s capability approach in evaluating individual’s quality of life. Using Nussbaum’s human’s functioning capabilities, the study will focus on evaluating the impact of the intervention on: (1) sense, imagination and thought, (2) play, (3) bodily health and (4) affiliation. The study hypothesized that the current interventions implemented while enhancing girls’ practice of MHM it has yet to reach the extent of enhancing quality of life. Cultural norms may play a role and suggesting that to certain extent existing programme has yet to be able to grasp the root of the issue.  

Keywords: menstruation hygiene management, subjective well-being, capabilities approach, quality of life

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