No More Limits: Menstrual Hygiene Day 2018

Good Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is essential for health, education, the environment, the economy and human rights. Yet the challenges of menstruation are often shrouded in silence and shame, surrounded by cultural myths and taboos. This year on Menstrual Hygiene Day the Fund joins the movement to help break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that good MHM plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential. 

At least 500 million women and girls lack adequate facilities to manage their periods [1]. When women and girls don’t have access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities at school, the workplace, healthcare facilities and in other public places, it can pose a major obstacle to their participation within these spaces [2].

For the past four years Menstrual Hygiene Management has been an important theme of the Australian Aid Funded Civil Society Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (CS WASH) Fund. A number of partner civil society organisations (CSOs) are tackling the taboos around MHM in their work to ensure everyone, everywhere has sustainable access to safe water and sanitation.  

MHM in Schools

When girls are unable to manage their menstrual hygiene in a private, safe and dignified manner at school, it can lead to increased school absenteeism. This has a severe cost on their education and their lives. Girls miss an estimated four days of school every four weeks according to the World Bank [3]. While UNICEF estimates that one in ten school-age girls in Africa don’t attend school during menstruation [4].

Ensuring girls stay in school requires the availability of adequate facilities and support with menstrual hygiene management. In Malawi for example, Boma Primary School has seen a dramatic improvement in girls’ attendance thanks to the efforts of the school’s Mother’s Group and the construction of menstrual hygiene management facilities. Initiated by United Purpose as part of their Fund project, the Mother’s Group maintains the school’s menstrual hygiene management facilities and provides girls with support in managing their periods.

Fund CSOs have also developed a number of resources and videos to share their learnings and support others strengthen the delivery of MHM training and support in communities. For example, this Menstrual Hygiene Management Promotion video for use in schools and communities, was produced by Plan Indonesia and combines their learnings from their CS WASH Fund project as well as their urban WASH project on Menstrual Hygiene Management.

In Malawi, this five-module Menstrual Hygiene Management Training Guide by Plan is intended to support the development of in-house capacity to train local communities and other relevant trainers in MHM. While this Teacher’s Resource Guide by WaterAid and the International WaterCentre supports teachers working in primary schools to address MHM in Papua New Guinea through fun and engaging activities.

A Human Rights issue

Addressing the specific needs of women and girls in ensuring sustainable access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is critical if we are to achieve the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 [5]. While the evidence-base of the challenges faced by women and girls in managing their menstruation is growing, experiences differ significantly from context to context. To address this and improve safe MHM at scale, SNV has developed an integrated rights-based approach to Menstrual Hygiene Management.

When women and girls are unable to manage their menstrual hygiene, it can create a barrier to gender equality and women and girls’ realisation of their human rights [6]. As this guide by Human Rights Watch and WASH United highlights, when women and girls have difficulty in accessing water and sanitation, it is likely they will have difficulty managing their menstruation; this can negatively impact on their ability to enjoy the right to education, work and health (HRW/WASH United 2017).

While women and girls around the world continue to face challenges in managing their periods, their rights to: good health and well-being (SDG3), quality education (SDG4), gender equality (SDG5), clean water and sanitation (SDG6), and decent work (SDG8) will remain aspirational. If we are to succeed in realising the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, addressing the barriers – both physical and cultural/social – women and girls face in effectively managing their periods safely and with dignity is critical.

Menstrual Hygiene Day 2018

The vision of Menstrual Hygiene Day is to create a world in which every woman and girl can manage her menstruation in a hygienic way – wherever she is – in privacy, safety and with dignity. The 28 May, offers an opportunity for partners across all sectors to engage in action, advocate, knowledge-share and work towards ending the taboo around menstruation. Join us this #MHDay2018 to collectively work towards #NoMoreLimits, share your stories with us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Photo credit: Plan Indonesia 

 

[1] The World Bank (2018) Feature story: Menstrual Hygiene Management enables women and girls to reach their full potential, http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2018/05/25/menstrual-hygiene-management

[2] The World Bank (2018) Feature story: Menstrual Hygiene Management enables women and girls to reach their full potential, http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2018/05/25/menstrual-hygiene-management

[3] The World Bank (2015) Toolkit on Hygiene Sanitation and Water in Schools: Gender Roles and Impact. http://www.wsp.org/Hygiene-Sanitation-Water-Toolkit/BasicPrinciples/GenderRoles.html

[4] WHO and UNICEF (2013) Progress on sanitation and drinking-water 2013 update. Geneva, WHO

[5] SNV (2016) Menstrual Hygiene Management, http://www.cswashfund.org/node/6847   

[6] Human Rights Watch and WASH United (2017) Understanding Menstrual Hygiene Management & Human Rights. https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/supporting_resources/mhm_practitioner_guide_web.pdf

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