Improving sexual, reproductive
and menstrual health for teen girls in Nepal

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Cristina Ljungberg

Cristina is the chairman and driving force behind the Giving Wings Foundation, a Swedish foundation focused on education and healthcare for women and girls with a specific interest in menstrual hygiene. She is an active board member of Afripads in Uganda and Acumen. Cristina started her career working for Baxter Healthcare in Chicago as a principal engineer, designing medical devices and biotech products. Following an MBA, she worked in the management consulting industry for McKinsey & Co.

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The Issue

Menstrual hygiene is a critical but often overlooked component of girls’ sexual and reproductive health.

Many teen girls in Nepal do not understand the changes taking place with their bodies during puberty. With a lack of hygienic sanitary materials and disposal options, limited privacy and clean water, girls are left to manage their periods in uncomfortable and unhygienic ways. The situation is made worse by cultural attitudes that view menstruation as something negative or shameful, leading to the exclusion of women and girls from aspects of social and cultural life.

Pilot And Learn

This project aims to understand the barriers preventing teen girls from accessing products for and education on their reproductive health, including menstrual hygiene, and to create the first girl-centered solutions to effectively address these barriers in Nepal.

By assessing the motivations of teen girls and the marketplace for reproductive health products and services in the country, PSI will gather evidence to fill knowledge gaps and inform the design of an approach that meets their needs. From health care providers to parents and teachers, this research will help to paint a comprehensive picture of the forces that shape the daily reality for Nepalese girls. Models to improve the reproductive health and menstrual hygiene landscape for girls will then be designed in collaboration with girls, putting the power of their input behind the development of solutions.

Leverage And Scale

The insights and lessons learned from this project will help PSI and its partners design more effective programs to improve the health of teen girls in Nepal and will serve as a model for how menstrual hygiene can be incorporated into ongoing reproductive health programs for girls globally.

Armed with a wealth of knowledge on the preferences of teen girls in Nepal and the social and cultural drivers of their behavior, PSI and other organizations will be better equipped to integrate menstrual health services into existing programs. Large government and multilateral donors have shown considerable interest in supporting such approaches once proven, and such partnerships can help millions of girls stay healthy in the transition to adulthood.