RMF Pakistan's Afshan Bhatti at SACOSAN 7
RMF Pakistan’s Research
MHM at SACOSAN 7
RMF Pakistan has a rich history of maternal, child, and adolescent health research in Pakistan, funded by CIHR, USAID, DFID, and UNICEF. Our team specializes in women’s reproductive health, with a focus on facilitating access to services and abolishing inequities in policy, design, and delivery of services. In partnership with the government of Pakistan, University of Alberta, Columbia University, and the University of Sheffield, RMF has nearly a decade of experience and a proven track record implementing programs in Pakistan’s remote, rural, and insecure areas.
Afshan Bhatti presenting at SACOSAN 7 April 10
Path to an Equal World
Mainstreaming MHM in Education and Health
On April 10, 2018, RMF Pakistan Program Manager Afshan Bhatti presented some of our team’s findings at the seventh South Asian Conference on Sanitation. SACOSAN is a government-led convention held every two years in one of the member countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka). The main goals of this regional convention are to promote increased commitment, shared learning, and accelerated progress in sanitation and hygiene.
The topic of Afshan’s presentation was “Path to an Equal World: Mainstreaming MHM in Education and Health.” She emphasized that menstrual hygiene management (MHM) is a fundamental human right and essential to achieving equality for women in any field. Additionally, girls from rural and urban communities need to have a voice in development of policies and plans. Afshan’s presentation was based on her research with RMF, including the recommendations provided by girls for mainstreaming MHM in health and education. She concluded that every girl and woman should be allowed to access accurate and pragmatic information on MHM to enable them to exercise choice.
Afshan Bhatti"s presentation during the session on Sociology of Sanitation
Sociology of Sanitation
Exploring Pervasive Socio-Cultural Understandings
Afshan spoke again on April 12, 2018, presenting a paper in the session on Sociology of Sanitation. The topic of her presentation was “How can we leave the traditions of our fathers and forefathers? – Exploring Pervasive Socio-Cultural Understandings of Menstrual Hygiene Management Practices in Pakistan.” This presentation focused on the socio-cultural practices surrounding menarche and menstruation in Pakistan and their harmful effects in women’s lives. Afshan explained many of the existing practices and structures around menstruation in rural Pakistan, such as the avoidance of water, use of rag pads, and unavailability of quality WASH facilities, as well as the underlying belief systems which perpetuate these. She argued that in order to achieve equity in the field of sanitation, we must be sensitive towards these beliefs, working with girls and women in the community to dispel harmful practices through educational programs and policies.
As part of the research project, a Pakistan Girls’ Puberty Book is being developed to provide girls with accurate, practical information on puberty. The book is currently at the provincial ministries for approval as a supplementary reader.