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Do policies have gender? Experiences of Adolescent Girls and Women of Disaster-prone Areas during Disasters

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14:00, Wednesday 10 May 2023 EDT (30 minutes)

Period poverty is a sincere concern where women experience social stigma, health issues and lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints. According to World Bank (2022), globally, 500 million women and girls experience period poverty, in Bangladesh the number is 78.4 million on SNV report in2021. Bangladesh is one of the topmost vulnerable countries to climate change, and approximately 23 million women lives in the disaster-prone area (World Bank, 2013). According to Adolescent Health Strategy 2017-2030, the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents is to be protected and The National Hygiene Promotional Strategy 2011-2025 is primarily concerned with women’s menstrual health and personal hygiene. But unfortunately, the menstrual health of adolescents in disaster prone communities was completely overlooked in these two strategy papers. In a similar vein, the National Policy for Disaster Management has not paid any attention to the menstruating women while it was being formulated. Given the fact, the present study intends to address this particular area of concern. The prime objective of this study is to reveal unheard voices of adolescent girls and women who experienced period disaster during natural disasters in Bangladesh. Feminist and Social exclusion theory have been used as theoretical lenses. The study adhered to a qualitative methodology and data were collected from nineteen adolescent girls and women through in-depth interviews in the form of 'Testimonio'. In addition, two Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were also conducted. The data were thematically analyzed by carefully reading the recorded responses. The study findings illustrate that poor women are vulnerable to period related management during natural disasters. Hence, they temporarily try to stop period during disasters by taking birth control pills and feeding their adolescent girls, which reconfirms their health hazards. The outcome of this study will aid policymakers in taking necessary actions to alleviate period poverty through effective period management policies during disasters.

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