College of Medicine student aims to improve health, shed social stigmas in Nepal

HERSHEY, Pa. — Aditi Sharma, a student in the doctor of public health program at Penn State College of Medicine, wants to enhance the quality of life for women and girls living in portions of Mid-West Nepal through an educational program focused on feminine health and hygiene.

A member of the Young Leaders Fellowship Program for the global advocacy group Women Deliver, Sharma was awarded a seed grant from Johnson & Johnson. Sharma developed an educational program for underserved populations living near Surkhet, Nepal, through a nongovernmental organization that she co-founded called Kalyani. The program teaches women and girls the importance of feminine hygiene and aims to improve access to sanitary products and shed stigmas about menstruation.

“The aim of our project is not only to promote proper menstrual health and hygiene among women in Far- and Mid-West Nepal, but also to restore the dignity they have been denied for so long,” she said.

Funding for the project ended in February 2018, but Sharma is in the process of applying for additional grants from Penn State and hopes to resume the project this summer. She will continue to focus on dismantling Chhaupadi, a common practice in parts of Nepal that isolates women and girls who are menstruating and forces them to live in sheds or huts because they are considered “impure” during that time.

Learn more about Sharma’s work in Nepal in this Penn State Medicine article.

Last Updated March 06, 2018