To provide support for girls during their period and to reduce stigma on menstruation, the Department of Education (DepEd) showcased the #MeronAko campaign.
“[We believe that] healthy learners are better learners, and water, sanitation, and hygiene are crucial in menstrual hygiene management among girls,” DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said in a statement issued on Monday, June 14.
DepEd said that it launched this initiative in celebration of Menstrual Hygiene Day and to promote the importance of Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM).
Briones assured that DepEd will ensure that “our learners will reach their fullest potential by ensuring healthy and enabling learning environments [and] this starts by providing them an avenue to break the taboo on getting periods.”
MHM refers to women and adolescent girls using “clean hygienic materials to absorb and collect menstrual blood.” It also includes having access to facilities where they can clean themselves and change menstrual pads in privacy.
“With MHM, women and girls also understand their menstrual cycle and are able to manage their menstruation with dignity and without shame,” DepEd said.
As part of DepEd’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools Program or WinS Program, the #MeronAko campaign focuses on educating learners, teachers, and schools about MHM.
The WinS Program is one of the flagship programs under the “Oplan Kalusugan sa DepEd” which is the convergence of DepEd’s school health and nutrition programs.
The other programs under the “OK sa DepEd” include the school-based feeding program, the national drug education program, adolescent reproductive health, school mental health, and medical, dental, and nursing services.
With support from UNICEF, DepEd said that the #MeronAko is currently being piloted in Northern Samar with the aim of scaling it up for national implementation.
Developed in 2018 in collaboration with the Center for Health Solutions and Innovations, Inc. (CHSI), DepEd said that the campaign transforms the sad expression “Meron Ako” – which is commonly used to signify having periods – into a positive message.
This, DepEd said, aims to affirm that even when one has a period, an “adolescent girl can still do the things she wants to do and become what she wishes to be.”
DepEd noted that because periods do not stop for pandemics, the #MeronAko campaign also developed distance learning tools to reach adolescent girls and boys with MHM messages at home during the COVID pandemic.
A set of age-appropriate videos on menstruation and MHM is accessible in the CHSI You Tube channel for use by teachers and pupils.
Together with UNICEF, Save the Children, and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) Philippines, the DepEd on May 28 also hosted an MHM webinar titled “Action and Investments on Menstrual Hygiene Management in the Philippines” to educate learners on menstrual health and hygiene.
DepEd, through the WinS Program, has monitored the availability of and access to water, sanitation facilities, and sanitary pads of around 32,619 elementary schools and 7,915 secondary schools to check whether Philippine schools have MHM-friendly spaces since 2017.
Based on the WinS Monitoring Results Philippines for Menstrual Hygiene Management, there is a “huge improvement” in all indicators on MHM in School Year (SY) 2019-2020 compared to the data from SY 2018-2019, which showed a higher toilet to pupil ratio indicating fewer girls had to share a facility.
Despite the absence of face-to-face classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DepEd said that it has been making learning guide booklets on making reusable pads available online on the DepEd WinS Website and DepEd Commons.
Likewise, a set of #MeronAko videos on menstruation and MHM are accessible in the CHSI YouTube channel for use as learning materials.