Meet the Parents: Impact of a Menstrual Health Intervention on Parental Implicit and Explicit Attitudes Towards Menstrual Taboos in Rural Bangladesh

39 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2021

See all articles by Eleonora E. Nillesen

Eleonora E. Nillesen

United Nations University (UNU-MERIT); Maastricht University

Paul Smeets

Maastricht University

Lidwien Sol

Maastricht University

Date Written: May 15, 2021

Abstract

Adolescent girls in Bangladesh and many other places in the world are subject to social and cultural norms regarding menstruation that prohibit partaking in every-day activities. We find the Ritu program has a strong effect on changing self-reported explicit attitudes among parents: parents in the treatment group are more likely to agree that menstruating girls should be able to cook, play with friends, eat white foods and wash clothes. We also find they are more likely to report their own daughter(s) are allowed to undertake these activities during their period. Implicit attitudes as measured by our IAT are unaffected by the Ritu program. Even while implicit attitudes stay unchanged, conscious (explicit) beliefs about the ability and effectiveness of supporting girls during their menstruation and sending girls to school (among other things) clearly adapt in response to the Ritu intervention. This can at least partially explain the observed improvements in outcomes related to school attendance and psychosocial wellbeing.

Our findings provide some of the first robust evidence of the role of (public) menstrual health programs like Ritu on parental attitudes that possibly provide a first step towards mitigating adverse outcomes for adolescent girls.

Note: Trial Registration: This paper is part of a larger RCT (and companion paper) which is registered at the American Economic Association: registered in the AEA RCT Registry: "AEARCTR-0002164" on December 6, 2017.

Funding Statement: Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Declaration of Interests: The authors declare to have no conflict of interest.

Ethics Approval Statement: We obtained approval from the ethical review committee inner city faculties Maastricht University. On September 11th 2018, reference number: ERCIC_096_29_08_2018.

Keywords: menstrual health, parents, RCT, attitudes, IAT, taboos

Suggested Citation

Nillesen, Eleonora E. and Smeets, Paul and Sol, Lidwien, Meet the Parents: Impact of a Menstrual Health Intervention on Parental Implicit and Explicit Attitudes Towards Menstrual Taboos in Rural Bangladesh (May 15, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3847299 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3847299

Eleonora E. Nillesen

United Nations University (UNU-MERIT) ( email )

Maastricht
Netherlands

Maastricht University

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, Limburg 6200MD
Netherlands

Paul Smeets

Maastricht University ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, Limburg 6200MD
Netherlands
+31433883643 (Phone)

Lidwien Sol (Contact Author)

Maastricht University ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, Limburg 6200MD
Netherlands

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