Aulia, a 15-year-old student from East Java, Indonesia, struggles to manage her menstrual hygiene while attending school, resulting in missed classes and reluctance to seek help from teachers or peers due to shame and stigma. Aulia's experience is typical for many adolescent girls worldwide, depriving them of opportunities to reach their full potential.
A recent survey in Indonesia conducted by the United Nations revealed that 1 in 5 adolescent girls encounter obstacles in accessing sanitary products due to high costs or limited mobility, while 1 in 10 feel ashamed or lack privacy when managing menstruation. To tackle these issues, the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA), a Member Association of IPPF, and UNICEF have joined forces to implement a program to raise awareness among young people about menstrual hygiene management and reproductive health. The project seeks to provide extensive information on reproductive health and menstrual hygiene management, promote open communication between stakeholders and young people, advocate for better school sanitation facilities, and equip adolescents with the necessary resources to manage their menstrual hygiene confidently.
The joint initiative between IPPA and UNICEF aims to educate 100,000 youths on menstrual hygiene management and reproductive health while encouraging 50,000 adolescents to use the Oky app. With the support of the Australian-funded Indo-Pacific Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights COVID-19 Response (C-Surge) program, the Oky Application will be scaled up as part of the initiative. The digital tool is designed to provide youth-friendly Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) information and help adolescents confidently manage their periods while supporting informed decision-making.
Aulia, who started using the app recently, shared her experience "I used to feel embarrassed talking about my period or asking questions about my body, but the Oky app has taught me so much about reproductive health in a way that is easy to understand. I feel more empowered and informed now." Meanwhile, Niken Takoy, 14, from East Nusa Tenggara, said that “the app's informative encyclopedia feature and easy-to-recognize icons have made the learning experience enjoyable and accessible.”
The joint initiative includes online workshops and sensitisation campaigns through youth centres and schools. It will be implemented across ten provinces in Indonesia: Jakarta, West Java, East Java, Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, Riau, Bali, East Nusa Tenggara, and Riau Islands. The program also features peer-to-peer learning models to facilitate knowledge sharing among young people.
"Through a youth-centred approach free from fear, discrimination, and stigma, IPPA and UNICEF are determined to promote knowledge and open communication on the significance of menstrual hygiene management and the implementation of reproductive health rights in schools,” Eko Maryadi, Executive Director, IPPA.
Through empowering adolescent girls like Aulia and Niken to manage their menstrual hygiene and access crucial information, the joint initiative is making a profound impact on the lives of young people in Indonesia, enabling them to break free from shame and stigma and reach their full potential.
To download the app click here https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.oky.id
Story by: Malarvili Meganathan, Communication, Voice and Media Advisor, IPPF ESEAOR [email protected] & Halimah Irna, National Program Coordinator, Oky, Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA) [email protected]