Periods matter. And not in the grammatical sense, but in the menstrual sense. Many of us don’t think twice about the luxury of buying menstrual hygiene products each month and the kinds of freedoms they afford us. But for so many women and girls around the world, lack of access and lack of resources to afford menstrual hygiene products has a devastating impact. On May 28th of this year, WASH United (WASH=water, sanitation & hygiene) is coordinating the first ever Menstrual Hygiene Day to help break the silence and build awareness. Why 5/28? Because average menses lasts 5 days and the average menstrual cycle is 28 days.
Did you know?
- “A study at a school in Uganda found that half of the girl pupils missed 1-3 school days a month, or 8-24 school days a year, due to menstruation.
- In rural India, many women and girls use unsanitary materials such as old rags, husks, dried leaves, grass, ash, sand or newspapers because they do not have access to affordable, hygienic and safe products and facilities.
- In one study by HERProject, 73% of the Bangladeshi garment workers they interviewed miss work for an average of 6 days per month (resulting in unpaid work days) due to vaginal infections caused by unsanitary menstrual materials.
- In places lacking a waste disposal infrastructure, it is common to see used feminine hygiene products on public streets. Incorrect disposal of sanitary products can also lead to clogged toilets and breakdowns of sanitation systems. These can both lead to public health problems.
- The lack of information about menstruation often results in a lack of empathy by boys and men. Menstrual-related teasing and harassment is common. Many men think menstruation is something to be avoided or looked down upon.
- All human rights stem from the fundamental right to human dignity. When women and girls are forced into seclusion, must use damp and soiled materials, or fear smelling or leaking due to inadequate MHM, dignity is difficult to maintain.” (Source)
Proper menstrual hygiene management (MHM) has the ability to increase education levels, improve economies, create healthier communities, reduce environmental waste, better sanitation conditions, decrease stigma, and empower girls and women!
So what can you do?
- Sign up for Menstrual Hygiene Day’s newsletter here.
- Learn more about the challenges and opportunities related to MHM in this amazing infographic.
- Encourage your organization to become a partner with the Menstrual Hygiene Day campaign.
- Show your support by taking a photo of yourself holding this #MenstruationMatters sign.
- Spread the word about menstrual hygiene! There’s a Twitter chat scheduled for 5/20 @ 10AM EST. Use the hashtags #MenstruationMatters, #MHDay, #PeriodTalk & #MHM. A full social media toolkit is available here.
And lastly… support my new Indiegogo campaign, “AFRIpads for 100 Ugandan Girls,” in ACODEV‘s effort to provide 100 orphaned/vulnerable girls in Kasese District with locally-produced, environmentally-friendly, washable sanitary napkins to help keep them in school for one year. The campaign will be open for 30 days in total, closing on June 11th. We’ve already raised $920 in just two days! Just $10 will provide a menstrual kit to one girl to last her an entire year. But if you can’t donate right now, it would be great if you could help us to spread the word.