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Freedom Kitbags

The Freedom Kit Bags Project, Nepal

Chhaupadi is an ancient tradition practised in some parts of Nepal that involves banishing menstruating women and girls to huts or sheds for the duration of their period, or longer. Although chhaupadi was made illegal in 2005, elements of the menstruation taboo live on in many rural parts of the country. A lack of proper sanitary provisions is fuelling a rise in vaginal infections, pelvic inflammation, and infertility amongst women whilst low self-esteem and dignity is interrupting education and hindering women and girls’ ability to achieve their fullest potential.

A movement led by Nepalese women against these taboos has been gaining traction for years now. Beni Rani Ghale and Dr Rosa Matheson have led these campaigns and more recently they have together developed Freedom Kit Bags with the aim to empower local women. The kit bags include washable pads for day and night-time use, pad holders, patterned panties, a waterproof bag for used pads, soap, a washing line, and a colourful and compact bag to contain the contents. These kits are distributed amongst local communities along with a training session in period health management and in sexual and reproductive health.

To date, Exodus have sponsored over many hundreds of Freedom Kit Bags since 2018. Each one will last a local woman two years and costs just £25.00 to assemble. Inspired by this incredible work in support of female empowerment, Exodus has more recently assumed a more active role in the project. Since 2019, we have been providing sewing rooms, sewing machines, material, and training to local women’s groups in remote villages to make their very own Freedom Kit Bags so that the impact of the project can reach even further. Not only will this help tackle menstruation stigma and period poverty, it will also enable local women by teaching skills that can be used in an employment context.

Most recently, we have been working with Rosa to train up some of our local Tour Leaders to distribute Freedom Kit Bags and deliver reproductive health training in their own communities, and those nearby.