Using Participatory Design to Develop a Menstrual Hygiene Management Intervention: Designing WASH UP! Girl Talk in Zimbabwe
Health and Physical Education
Water Resource Management
Globally, as more girls transition from primary to secondary education, there is a new generation of girls who will have to manage their menses in school environments. Few schools are designed with girls’ menstrual hygiene management (MHM) needs in mind and many girls begin menstruating without knowing what is happening to them. This lack of knowledge about menstruation is associated with profound psychological and reproductive health issues. As such, school-based WASH interventions, especially those focused on MHM, can improve educational opportunities, promote lifelong health, and enhance the wellbeing of children and their families. In Zimbabwe, these global realities hold true, where menstruation is a taboo subject and girls find it difficult to access accurate information and are unable to manage their menstruation safely, hygienically, and with dignity and privacy. An effective solution to these challenges must address school infrastructure concerns and limitations in knowledge, attitudes, and practices around MHM. In response, Sesame Workshop, in collaboration with World Vision, launched WASH UP! Girl Talk in Zimbabwe, targeting students 10-14 years old. Girl Talk involved the development and implementation of an intervention aimed at improving students’ knowledge and practice of healthy hygiene behaviors. Girl Talk also focused on increasing girls’ confidence in their personal MHM. This article highlights the development of Girl Talk and its focus on participatory design to standardize a curriculum framework, implementation process, and research approach to contextualize education content. This process of program design, grounded in the intersections of best practices and local knowledge, provides both a conceptual and practical framework to inform future MHM interventions.