A Period-Friendly World: Building Dignity and Resilience Through Menstrual Health and Hygiene

A woman leads a group of women through a dense tropical rain forest in papua new guinea as they return from collecting water


This Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day), Water for Women joins the global call for a world where everyone who menstruates can manage their period safely, hygienically, and with dignity. The theme, "Together for a #PeriodFriendlyWorld," reminds us that achieving this goal requires a collective effort. 

Millions around the world, particularly in Asia and the Pacific, lack access to basic necessities for proper menstrual health and hygiene (MHH). This includes menstrual products, clean water, sanitation facilities, and education. This lack of access creates a significant barrier to well-being, education, and social participation for women, girls, and gender-diverse people.


MHH: More Than Hygiene, It's Empowerment

MH Day is a powerful platform to break the silence surrounding menstruation and dismantle the negative social norms and stigma that hold people back. Safe and reliable MHH goes beyond hygiene; it's a catalyst for transforming gender norms and empowerment. Access to a variety of menstrual products, including affordable and sustainable options, is crucial. However, ensuring access to clean water and proper sanitation infrastructure is equally important.


MHH and the Climate Challenge

Climate change poses a significant threat to MHH. Extreme weather events can damage sanitation facilities, while droughts can limit access to clean water. The environmental impact of menstrual products is another concern. Disposable products create massive waste, while reusable options may not be practical in all contexts. Water scarcity can make washing them difficult, and cultural norms may limit drying space.


Building a Sustainable Future for MHH

The solution requires a multifaceted approach. We need to advocate for increased access to clean water and sanitation, support innovation in sustainable menstrual products, and address the specific challenges faced by under-resourced communities. By working together, we can create a world where menstruation is a normal part of life, not a barrier to opportunity or environmental sustainability.

This MH Day, we are sharing insights from Water for Women and our partner iDE Cambodia, into the critical links between climate and menstruation, as well as stories from our partners capturing the range of initiatives happening that are making menstruation safer, less taboo, and more accessible for everyone who menstruates. Together, we can build a #PeriodFriendly and climate-resilient world for all.

Explore MHH stories below


A group of young women sit on the floor watching a forum in Jaipur India

From Secrecy to Sustainability: Menstrual Health in Jaipur Schools

In Jaipur India, girls grapple with period stigma and lack of knowledge, hindering education and well-being. The Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) is working to change this by promoting menstrual health, dignity, and empowering girls as changemakers. 


A Cambodian women displays her flip-chart presentation on WASH and menstrual health and hygiene

More Than Toilets: iDE's Work on Menstrual Health and Climate Resilience in Cambodia

In Cambodia's Siem Reap province, especially near the flood-prone Tonle Sap Lake, families struggle with the impact of climate change. Seasonal flooding poses a significant challenge, particularly for women and girls managing their menstrual health. Learn how iDE is working to connect these households with affordable and resilient Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) solutions that specifically address MHH needs, and empower women and girls with dignity and safety during their periods, even amidst a changing climate.



A group of school children, boys and girls, listen to a peer-led presentation

Boys as Allies for Menstrual Health in Indonesia

Traditionally, menstruation in Indonesia has been shrouded in secrecy. A staggering 25% of girls in Indonesia lack basic information about their periods. This lack of knowledge fuels fear and embarrassment, often leading to bullying and absenteeism during menstruation. Yayasan Plan International Indonesia (YPII) is tackling this challenge head-on by promoting Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM), in schools, with regular education sessions targetting both girls and boys, promoting the importance of menstrual hygiene, empathy, and respect. By involving boys as allies, YPII aims to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all students.



A woman stands outside a school in rural Papua New Guinea

Period of Change: Menstrual Health Education Transforms Tapias Primary School in PNG

In schools across Papua New Guinea, adolescent girls face a crisis during their periods due to limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities. With a national average sanitation access rate of only 22% and just 8% of schools implementing MHH programs, shame, stigma, and absenteeism often disrupt girls' education. Learn about the PNG Consortium's efforts to improve MHH in Bol Village and empower girls with knowledge and support. 


Menstrual Hygiene Day is observed every year on May 28th to emphasise the importance of menstrual care and raise awareness about the challenges many women face in accessing safe and affordable menstrual products and facilities. The theme for 2024 is "Together for a #PeriodFriendlyWorld," highlighting our collective responsibility to ensure dignified and safe menstruation for all.

Despite being a natural and essential process, access to safe menstrual products, clean water, private sanitation facilities, sexual health education, and a life free of stigma and enforced isolation when menstruating remains a luxury for many, particularly in Asia and the Pacific. 

Nearly 800 million people menstruate daily, including girls, women, and gender-diverse people. However, many struggle to manage their menstruation with dignity and in safe, hygienic conditions. Climate change further exacerbates these challenges, impacting both the availability of period products and the people who need them, and consequently limiting opportunities for education and participation in economic and social activities.

Menstrual hygiene also has significant environmental consequences. Over 12 billion single-use products are discarded annually, and without adequate sanitation facilities and safe disposal mechanisms, these products end up in landfills and polluting waterways. Addressing these issues requires a systems change focus that supports sustainable solutions which consider appropriate resourcing to holistically address the needs of people who menstruate.

Access to safe, hygienic, and sustainable menstrual products and facilities reduces health risks, enhances resilience against climate impacts, and empowers women, girls, and gender-diverse individuals to pursue education and employment and advocate for their needs and interests.

By working together, we can create a world where menstruation is a normal part of life, not a barrier to opportunity or environmental sustainability. Together, we can build a #PeriodFriendly and climate-resilient world for all.


Header photo: A group of women return from collecting water in Papua New Guinea (Photo: WaterAid/ Tom Greenwood)

Contact Us