Brief Introduction about WISH

'The vision of our Honourable Chief Minister Dr. J Jayalalithaa is that ‘Women should have self confidence to carry out their responsibilities by keeping their health physically fit to meet challenges.'

The Syndicate of Bharathidasan University has resolved that a separate Forum be created in the name and style of “Women Involved in Sanitation and Hygiene (WISH)”, to be coordinated by NSS Cell in association with Department of Social Work and Department of Women Studies of the University, for promoting Menstrual Hygiene Management and Health Issues among urban and rural women. The Vice-Chancellor will be the Founder Patron and Chairperson of the Forum. The NSS Coordinator of the University will be the Organising Secretary.

The vision and mission of our Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu will be amply fulfilled by the innovative forum WISH. The unique forum ‘WISH’ will definitely “Reach the Un-reached” through its programmes. The lifestyle of women in rural areas will be uplifted through the societal contributions of WISH. The main aim and motto of WISH is to involve the women students for taking the message in thrust areas of sanitation and menstrual hygiene management as a part of community rehabilitation.

The WISH activities will be implemented through NSS units in the colleges and their adopted villages in rural and slum in urban areas. WISH activities will be in a time bound and phased manner. The first phase will cover women colleges, co-educational colleges and constituent colleges and schools. A number of programmes including “Training of Trainers, Workshops, Seminars, Conferences, etc.” will be organised.

Sanitation and MHM Scenario

As per the latest statistics, more than half of the population lack toilet facilities in India. There is a wide difference between rural and urban women in understanding the need for proper and scientific healthy and hygienic practices. Especially in rural areas, there is a lack of information about female health and sanitation issues among the adolescent girls. Most adolescent girls seek information from their peers who do not know much better. Lack of appropriate and adequate sanitary facilities prevents girls from attending colleges and schools.

Most urban girls use sanitary napkins, whereas in rural girls majority use clothes. Even the urban girls have no idea about the content of sanitary napkins sold in the market and how to dispose them in a safe manner. In fact, there is a culture of silence about sanitation and MHM and hence there is an urgent need to address these important issues.

In a move aimed at ensuring better menstrual hygiene among rural girls and women, the Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Dr. J. Jayalalithaa is implementing free sanitary napkins scheme, the ‘first-of-its-kind’ initiative in the country, at a cost of Rs. 44.21 crores.

To inculcate the values of women health, menstrual hygienic management and sanitation among the rural and urban adolescent girls and women Dr. K. Meena, Vice-Chancellor of Bharathidasan University under the auspices of NSS in Bharathidasan University has initiated the new forum of ‘WISH’ (Women Involved in Sanitation and Hygiene) to enhance the status women for the social cause.

Objectives of WISH

  • To enhance the status of women and girls by promoting female hygienic management.
  • To sensitise girls and women on safe and environmental friendly manner of used sanitary napkins.
  • To integrate and make network with various organisations engaged in promotion of health and hygienic practices.
  • To sensitise and to promote line departments of Government like Health, Education, Water, Sanitation, Rural Development, Social Work, etc. on MHM.
  • To enhance the knowledge about the good health, menstrual hygienic and sanitation practices to college students and rural women.
  • To involve stakeholders, NGOs, Local Bodies, etc., on MHM.
  • To mobilise and sensitise to remove the social stigma and taboos related to health, menstrual hygienic and sanitation through intensive information and education
  • To work and sensitise collectively to motivate the policy makers to create girl friendly and women friendly toilets at colleges and schools, work places and also in the public places in NSS adopted villages.
  • To encourage the students and institutions those are involved in women health, menstrual hygiene and sanitation to take up research.
  • To create awareness about Women health, hygiene and sanitation among the people affected with infectious diseases, especially those are affected by AIDS and Leprosy.
  • To promote educational institutions, especially those with hostels to establish sanitary napkin incinerators

Activities of WISH

  • Evaluate the knowledge, attitude and practices about Women Health and Hygiene and Menstruation Hygiene Management.
  • The dissemination of sanitation messages through slogans, pamphlets, street play, etc.
  • Organise awareness programmes among students in colleges and schools.
  • Creating wide network with various organisations with regard to promotion and awareness of women health and hygiene.
  • Publishing Handbook and organise programmes for Training of Trainers (ToT) on women health and hygiene.

Facts about Women Health and Sanitation

  • Women have certain physiological problems.
  • It is thought to be an individual problem but it is a social and human rights issue.
  • Even the literate woman does not know the anatomy and physiology of their own reproductive system.
  • An average woman spends approximately 7 years of her entire life during menstruation.
  • Lack of sanitation facilities leads to either dropouts or low attendance among the girl students in schools and colleges.
  • Mothers and Teachers are also having hesitation to discuss about women menstrual hygiene with the adolescent girls.
  • In rural areas usage of sanitary napkin is still thought to be a luxury and not needed for good health.
  • Repeated usage of single pad/cloth leads to discomfort and infection in urinary and reproductive tracts
  • Clean and safe clothes are a good alternative to sanitary napkins.

WISH Implementing Areas

The WISH programme will cover the women’s colleges, Co-educational colleges and constituent colleges, especially in the NSS implementing colleges and schools in Bharathidasan University area in the first phase and will be extended to other parts of the State.