Menstrual Hygiene Management
Menstruation is a normal biological process and a key sign of reproductive health, yet in many cultures it is treated as something negative, shameful or dirty. The continued silence around menstruation combined with limited access to information at home and in schools results in millions of women and girls having very little knowledge about what is happening to their bodies when they menstruate and how to deal with it. A study from UNICEF revealed that 1 out of 3 girls in South Asia knew nothing about menstruation prior to getting it while 48% of girls in Iran and 10% of girls in India believe that menstruation is a disease (WaterAid 2013, Menstrual Hygiene Matters).
Many girls and women face challenges with managing their periods safely
In addition to persisting taboos, women and girls’ capacity to manage their periods is affected by a number of other factors, including limited access to affordable and hygienic sanitary materials and disposal options leaving many to manage their periods in ineffective, uncomfortable and unhygienic ways. In some contexts, natural materials such as mud, leaves, dung or animal skins are used to manage the menstrual flow (UNESCO 2013, Puberty Education and Menstrual Hygiene Management). These problems are further exacerbated by insufficient access to safe and private toilets and lack of clean water and soap for personal hygiene. As a result, menstruating girls and women often feel ashamed and embarrassed.
Facing long-standing social stigmas attached to menstruating bodies, many become isolated from family, friends and their communities. Often, they miss school and productive work days and fall behind their male counterparts. One school girl, Kishori, from Bettiah, India elaborates, “I hate menstruation because I have to miss my school during those days and I love my school. My school does not have any facilities where I can change and dispose menstrual waste. On those days my mother always forces me to stay at home.”
Initiated by WASH United, the first global Menstrual Hygiene Day will be celebrated on May 28th around the world with exhibitions, film screenings, workshops and gatherings, all aimed at breaking the silence around menstruation. Menstrual Hygiene Day was created to publicly recognize the right of women to hygienically manage their menstruation wherever they are. By acknowledging that menstruation is a normal human process and a sign of good health, Menstrual Hygiene Day confronts the stigmas attached to menstruation with collective advocacy, education and action.
Visit http://menstrualhygieneday.org/ to learn more.
In addition, WASH United has developed a menstrual hygiene management curriculum to educate about taboos, hygiene and reproductive health. Using our approach of fun, games and positive communication, the curriculum is designed for the training of teachers/trainers as well as of adolescent girls and boys.
Contact for Menstrual Hygiene Management: