Recipients of PSC Small Grant Awards
Menstruation and Education in Nepal: Follow-up Study
Rebecca L. Thornton
Women throughout the developing world face restrictions – both cultural and physical – during their menstrual periods. Modern menstruation technologies (tampons, sanitary pads) are often not available or are prohibitively expensive, forcing women to rely on less convenient and sanitary options, such as rags. This may restrict their activities, including school attendance and work opportunities. This project explores the impact of introducing a new menstruation technology on women and girls in rural Nepal. In particular, we have introduced a menstrual cup, which is a small, silicone, bell-shaped cup that is worn internally and emptied, washed and re-used approximately every 12 hours during the period. With proper care, the cup may be re-usable for up to a decade. The cup is quite comfortable, and in general the wearer will not notice that she is using it. Activities such as biking and swimming are not restricted. The primary issue we aim to address in this project is whether providing this technology increase school attendance for girls in the sample. Baseline data suggests that girls in this sample often report missing school because of their period; if the menstrual cup is more comfortable and convenient than what they were using before, school attendance may increase.
A secondary topic we hope to address in this work is technology adoption. The product we are providing in a new, unfamiliar technology. By observing the patterns of adoption – who uses the product, who uses it first, etc – we may be able to provide insight into a large existing literature on technology adoption in general. Broadly, technology adoption is central to economic growth and
development and studies have examined factors that predict faster technology uptake. Given the importance of improving global health – for example, attaining the Millennium Development Goals – it is equally important to understand the adoption of health technologies in poor or rural areas of the world. However, little rigorous research has studies the impact of education, mobilization, costsharing, and social networks on the adoption of health technologies and practices (Cave and Curtis 1999, McPake 1993, Miguel and Kremer 2003).
Funding Period: 12/31/2007 to 3/31/2009