Making menstrual health and hygiene pivotal, not peripheral this Menstrual Hygiene Day

Recently sewn reusable pads are piled up in front of a sewing machine, they are made with colourful tropical fabrics

The time is over for peripheral programming on menstrual health and hygiene (MHH) in WASH. It is now pivotal, particularly given the context of COVID-19 restrictions, which have exacerbated period poverty and decreased availability and access to hygienic facilities, sanitary products and information to support stigma-free safe and dignified menstruation.


On 28th May, 2021, Water for Women partners joined with other key organisations, Pacific Menstrual Health Network and World Bank Group to share learning on how they are working to make MHH pivotal in WASH programming. Incredible learning and insight from active WASH delivery across the globe was shared for this, the first in a series of free WASH & Learn webinars from Water for Women.  

Photos of presenters on MHH & WASH with blue background and presenting logos for Water for Women, CFAR, Plan International, WaterAid, World Vision and World Bank Group

Chaired by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and facilitated by Water for Women, the session also heard from:

World Vision Vanuatu

Yayasan Plan International Indonesia

Centre for Advocacy and Research India

Pacific Menstrual Health Network and WaterAid

World Bank Water


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Through presentations, panel discussion and audience Q&A, this WASH & Learn helped participants increase their understanding of the importance of MHH in WASH, and its impacts on girls’ education and women’s participation, health and wellbeing through examples of MHH good practice and innovation across the Water for Women Fund and more broadly.


Menstruation is a normal and natural part of the reproductive system, and yet in so many parts of the world, it is still not treated as such, and is either heavily stigmatised or ignored. On any given day, more than 300 million women and girls are menstruating.  This stigma and indifference has debilitating impacts worldwide on women, girls, and gender non-binary people, including those with disabilities, and can severely impact their health and lifetime opportunities to access to education, employment and recreation.

The WASH sector has a central role to play in supporting the safe and dignified menstruation management to positively impact the life course of women of all ages and girls worldwide[1]. To achieve SDG6.2 (access to adequate sanitation for all), we need to prioritise MHH rather than treat it as a peripheral issue.

Making menstruation pivotal in WASH requires a whole-of-systems approach to ending period poverty in MHH: strengthening supply chains and empowering women and girls, undoing stigma and harmful norms that perpetuate myths of menstruation as dirty and shameful, and ensuring toilets (in schools, at health care facilities, in institutions and workplaces, as well as in the home) are menstrual hygiene friendly. 

Launch of learning brief promo tile

Launched #MHDay2021

A Learning Brief on MHH & WASH drawn from research within the Water for Women Fund.


View MHH Postcards

View more MHH resources


[1] Note from: Making the Case for Investing in Menstrual Health & Hygiene, January 2021.  Women and girls: not all women and girls menstruate, and not all people who menstruate are women. The term ‘girls and women’ is used as a shorthand term to increase readability but refers to all people who menstruate including girls, women, transgender and non-binary persons.

Header photo: MJ Enterprise in Solomon Islands are helping make MHH pivotal through their reusable pad business. 

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