India is a country of 1.3 billion people. 20% of the world’s adolescent girls live in India [1]. While it boasts a high gross domestic product growth rate (7.6% in 2015), this economic growth has not been shared by all as many still live in poverty. As many as 25% of school-age youth do not attend secondary school. In recent years, the gender gap has closed as girls now edge out boys in enrollment rates.[2]

UNICEF is fully committed to working with the Government of India to ensure that each child born in the country get the best start in life, thrive and develop to his or her full potential. The empowerment and participation of adolescent girls and boys is one of the key outcomes of the country programme. Through this, adolescents will know their rights and how to protect themselves from risks and vulnerabilities, and duty bearers will have capacity and knowledge to create protective environment free from gender-based violence.[3]

The WinS4Girls program in India aimed to help generate evidence in understanding the barriers and challenges of MHM and WASH faced by schoolgirls in India and to use the data generated to develop a basic holistic package for MHM in government schools that can be scaled-up across India. The underlying objective was to affect the enabling environment for MHM programming in the country by providing guidance to administrators and policy makers.

WinS4Girls Report (India) [1]

Quick Facts
Percentage of schools with:
Basic drinking water
Basic sanitation or toilets
Of which single sex toilets

Literacy rate for youth (15 - 24 years old) 86
Primary education completion rate 88
Secondary education completion rate 35
Gender parity rate in secondary schools competition (number of females to male) 0.93


Global Education Monitoring Report, Education for People and Planet: Creating Sustainable Solutions for All. UNESCO, 2016. Paris, FR.


  • National Government of India.
  • State Governments of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu.
  • WASH United.
  • Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Implementation Package

Under WinS4Girls, UNICEF worked with ministries of education and other partners at national level (typically through MHM Working Groups) to develop and promote a MHM intervention package informed by the WinS4Girls formative research.

Depending on the country, the intervention packages have taken different forms in response to the diverse needs expressed by girls, their teachers, and their families during the research. For example, they may include national or sub-national policies and guidelines; learning and communication materials; and training modules for teachers, health workers, and peer educators. In some cases, the package has included infrastructure development and pad production or distribution.

The Implementation Package comprised of formative study followed by development of guidelines for inter-departmental convergent WASH programming and this was accompanied by development of audio, visual material for awareness generation.

Formative study:

  • The objectives of the formative study included:
  • Understanding the challenges girls face in managing menstruation at government schools.
  • Investigating the effect of MHM practices on girls’ participation and attainment in school.
  • Evaluating the role of the school WASH environment on girls MHM practices.
  • Documenting best practices in government schools, whether in terms of WASH, education, support groups or menstrual products to contribute to the knowledge base for developing a basic MHM package for government schools.
  • Identifying school environmental drivers and barriers associated with optimizing educational and other benefits to improve MHM for girls, with the aim of refining not only the UNICEF MHM programmes in Indian government schools, but also contribute to broader knowledge and potential solutions for MHM programmes in other countries.
  • Contributing to the knowledge base for MHM and WASH in government schools.

Development of MHM Guidelines:

  • MHM guidelines were informed by findings of formative study. These were drafted in collaboration with the concerned Departments.
  • MHM Guidelines outline what needs to be done by state governments, district administrations, engineers and technical experts in line departments; and school head teachers and teachers; for providing hygienic options to adolescent girls and women for managing menstruation.
  • The guidelines are inclusive of action planning frameworks for programming on MHM at National, State and District levels and also include financial aspect.


The team conducted research on MHM practices and the barriers girls face in schools. The research consisted of a review of secondary literature followed by surveys of girls and teachers in schools, focus group discussions among girls, boys, teachers and parents, and stakeholder interviews at national, state and local levels. Ethical clearances were obtained prior to the study. The study was conducted with the intent to informing policy makers on schoolgirls’ MHM and WASH experiences, and the barriers and challenges they still encounter.

Visit the Resources Section to download the implementation package