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What Would You Do If You Had No More Limits?

Every day, roughly 800 million girls and women around the world have their period. Nevertheless, in some parts of the world, this normal bodily function is viewed as taboo and the consequences of that — from the loss of educational and economic opportunities, to social exclusion and a number of possible health complications — are potentially dire.

A topic like menstruation is met with silence in India. Over half of all girls have no knowledge of what is happening to their body during their first period, and as many as 1 in 4 girls will not attend school due to menstruation. It is only with the knowledge of what menstruation entails, and how to manage it hygienically, that girls can act accordingly and take charge of themselves. Thus, the answer for many working in the field is simple: education.

In light of these challenges, Common Goal has teamed up with WASH United and Slum Soccer to develop, test and implement a Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Education Guide in India; to build the capacity of community organisations in India working on female empowerment; and to provide education to 2,200 girls in India.

The Common Goal project on Menstrual Hygiene Management was selected in April 2018 as one of the two signature projects that Common Goal is supporting throughout this year. Among the many reasons the project was selected, it encapsulates the spirit and philosophy of the Common Goal movement, involving four community organisations in India, all members of the streetfootballworld network. The shared skills, resources and expertise generated in the project, will amplify both the impact and the reach of the project in India. The project is supported by 20 Common Goal players and managers that have pledged 1% of their salary to Common Goal.

The project on menstrual hygiene management in India is led by WASH United. After successfully creating a similar product through a human-centered design process in East Africa in 2016, WASH United will adapt, develop and test this tool, together with Slum Soccer, in Nagpur, India, to ensure that it is effective in the specific cultural context.

Following the developments in Nagpur, the guide will be shared with three streetfootballworld network members: Yuwa, Dream a Dream, and OSCAR Foundation. All three organisations share the same goal, yet take divergent approaches; while Yuwa works directly with girls in rural India, Dream a Dream works with teachers, and OSCAR with young leaders on the ground.

This diversity in approach among the different organisations benefits the project as a whole, as each organisation will provide feedback and tailor the programme for their specific contexts. Moreover, qualitative data is collected from every instance of implementation, providing additional information, which can be used to further refine the guide.

All in all, the programme will reach over 2,200 girls across India, using the power of football to empower young girls to become change-makers in their own community. One of the results of the implementation so far has been that the girls are eager to spread the knowledge they gain to friends and family.

The benefits of MHM education are immense: girls are able to participate fully in public life, they no longer face the risk of falling behind in school, or to suffer from preventable infections. It is a problem, that, when approached appropriately, can improve the lives of young women in so many ways. It is why improvements in menstrual hygiene management contribute towards the fulfilment to three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (3, 4 & 5).

A world in which every girl and woman receives adequate education regarding their menstrual hygiene, and has access to the products and facilities to put that knowledge into action, would be a better world for all. Beyond the economic, health, and educational benefits, millions of girls and women gain the ability to live their lives with dignity, on their own terms. To enable girls to reach their full potential and fulfill their dreams, with #nomorelimits.

WASH United is a non-profit organization headquartered in Berlin, Germany, dedicated to achieving safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for all people by 2030. More specifically, WASH United works to change people’s attitudes and behaviours around the issues of sanitation and hygiene through innovative approaches that harness the power of sports and play-based learning.

WASH United is the initiator and coordinator of global Menstrual Hygiene Day, celebrated every year on 28 May. The day breaks the silence, raises awareness and changes negative social norms around MHM, and engages decision-makers to increase the political priority and catalyse action for MHM, at global, national and local levels.

Slum Soccer runs football programmes for the most disadvantaged members of Indian society. It began with football leagues for the homeless and slum dwellers, many of whom were involved in crime, violence, or drugs. The decrease in these harmful activities and the improvement of the participants’ lives inspired Slum Soccer to expand its programmes. Slum Soccer programmes now exist in many cities and addresses gender equality, HIV/AIDS infection, personal hygiene and environmental protection.

Common Goal is uniting the football community in tackling the greatest social challenges of our time. And we can use your help. Join the team at www.common-goal.org

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