Menstrual Cups in Nepal: Preliminary Results from a Randomized Evaluation
Rebecca L. Thornton, University of Michigan
Emily Oster, University of Chicago
This paper presents the results from a randomized evaluation that distributed menstrual cups to adolescent girls in rural Nepal. Girls in the study were randomly allocated a menstrual cup for use during their monthly period and were followed for 15 months to measure the effects of having modern sanitary products on schooling outcomes and time use. While girls were significantly less likely to attend school on days of their period, we find no significant effects of being allocated a menstrual cup on attendance. There were also no effects on test scores, measures of self-esteem, or gynecological health. These results suggest that policy claims that barriers to girls' schooling and activities during menstrual periods are due to lack of modern sanitary protection may not be warranted. On the other hand, sanitary products are quickly and widely adopted by girls and are convenient in other ways, unrelated to short-term schooling gains.