Menstruation – Making it real


The Fund Coordinator GSI Specialist, Jose Mott reflects on the importance of Menstrual Hygiene and the role of WASH in alleviating barriers

The 28th May marks an important day – International Menstrual Hygiene Day.

Why so important?

#MHDay acknowledges menstruation as a natural and healthy part of adolescent girls and women’s lives - on average a woman menstruates for about seven years during her lifetime (UNICEF). Yet in in so many parts of the world, menstruation is still not treated as natural and it is either heavily stigmatized or ignored. This has enormous repercussions on women and girls, and can severely impact their health and lifetime opportunities to access recreation, education, and employment.

“Globally, 2.3 billion people lack basic sanitation services and in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) only 27 per cent of the population has a handwashing facility with water and soap at home” (UNICEF). Stigma and taboos associated with menstruation, along with the lack of these basic facilities, serve as a double burden on women and girls. Both social and physical barriers mean that many women and girls are unable to access accurate, judgement-free information and WASH facilities to ensure that they have their periods hygienically, safely and with dignity. Girls and women with disabilities are disproportionately affected, with increased stigma and difficulties in accessing hygienic toilets and sanitation products.

The WASH sector has an important role to play to alleviate the physical and social barriers that women and girls experience due to having their periods. Many of our Fund partners are working hard to ensure that menstrual hygiene management is incorporated into their WASH programming. WASH infrastructure design, behaviour change and advocacy are just some examples of how they are doing this.

To celebrate menstruation, we have shared some examples of work happening across the region as Water for Women partners implement their projects to support better menstrual hygiene management, awareness, understanding and behaviours.

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