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Menstrual Hygiene Day: Championing Advocacy and Access For All

Menstrual hygiene day

How are you bringing awareness to Menstrual Hygiene Day this year? What? Didn’t you know there was such a day? Well, let’s get you in the know!

Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28) is a “global platform that brings together non-profits, government agencies, the private sector, the media and individuals to promote Menstrual Hygiene Management.” Created by WASH United in 2013, this day brings awareness to the challenges females face due to menstruation worldwide. The aim of this special day is to find solutions and create advocacy for those without access to hygiene materials and education, as well as remove the social stigma of menstruation.

Menstruation Management

No matter if you are a menstruating woman in New York City, Japan, or Uganda, we all have periods to manage. Doing it with dignity and normalcy is a challenge no matter where you’re from or what life challenges you face, though admittedly, some females have a harder road. A period shouldn’t stop someone from traveling, going to school, or going to work, but it does. Finding better ways to manage menstruation including apps, tech gear, and pain relief should be a priority.

Lack of Access

Did you know that one out of every ten girls in Sub-Saharan Africa skips school during her period or drops out due to lack of access to sanitary products or facilities? Lack of access doesn’t end there either. India launched its National Guidelines on Menstrual Hygiene Management in 2015 in response to the 113 million girls at risk of dropping out of school once their periods start. Numerous countries around the globe either cannot or will not make menstrual hygiene a priority.

Clean water, sanitation, and education on menstruation, sexual, and reproductive health are critical to human rights. Many countries don’t have access to these life essentials. For example, only 62-percent of schools in Ghana have adequate sanitation. In India, only 53-percent of schools have a separate, usable girl’s toilet. While it’s unthinkable that menstruation could lead to millions of girls losing access to education and not reaching their potential, it’s happening at an alarming rate! Adequate menstrual hygiene is truly a global crisis.

Eradicate the Stigma

Cultures, traditions, and norms are the other part of the management issue. There is much work to be done on normalizing and de-stigmatizing menstruation. Thought of as dirty, gross, and taboo in everything from ancient mythology to the present-day boardrooms, menstruation often paints women as inferior and held hostage by their bodies. Females are considered emotional, and therefore, unstable in the eyes of the world due to a biological monthly process. There is much work to be done in removing the stereotypes and stigmas in cultures that illustrate periods as impure and unclean, as well as reeducating the boy’s clubs of the world who like to ask the question, “Are you being a bitch because you’re on your period?” It only promotes a negative view of women and menstruation. And it needs to end.

Understanding for All People

We don’t talk enough about the ways menstruation affects all our lives. Periods are tough and affect half the population at some point in time, and not only those who self-identify as female. Transgender and intersex people can also experience menstruation and it can be a particularly hard for them in the case of access to facilities and health services. Men and boys may not have the tools and information to properly understand menstruation and why it doesn’t need to be a taboo or seen as dirty or gross. They are actually a critical piece in creating the community of understanding and changing the social norms. It takes a village, and that means educating the entire village, not just the women.

This May 28thcelebrate MHD by following MHD on Twitter and Instagram. Reshare their info on your social networks or add your own information with the hashtag #NoMoreLimits. If you want to get hands-on, host a conversation or workshop, donate, or partner work with one of the many partner organizations. Also, feel free to share your great ideas for celebrating in the comments!

Photo courtesy of Days for Girls

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