MHM: Periods Do Not Stop In Pandemics
Menstrual hygiene management can be challenging for women and girls in developing countries, where access to clean water and toilet facilities are not adequate. In rural communities, some women and girls do not have the capacity to purchase sanitary towels, so they mostly rely on the use of reusable cloths and rags which has grave implications to health.
Research shows that over 800 million women and girls menstruate every day globally and they lack the tools needed to properly manage their periods. There is a cultural and social stigma surrounding menstruation, often preventing women and girls from attending work and school. Even when they do attend while menstruating, the lack of access to menstrual hygiene products, lack of sanitation infrastructure such as private toilets and handwashing facilities, and lack of menstrual hygiene education can prevent women and girls from reaching their full potential in the classroom, in the workplace, and at home.
In some societies, there is a norm that women should not talk about menstruation openly because it is something to be ashamed of. This often leads to their discomfort during this period. There are situations where men have described menstruation, which is a natural phenomenon, as disgusting and shut down female folks who tried to speak openly about it.
WASH means Water, Sanitation and Hygiene while they are separate fields of work, they are interdependent. Without clean water, proper hygiene can not be practiced, without toilet facilities our water sources can be contaminated. Without access to WASH facilities, girls and women find it extremely difficult to manage their menstruation safely. Prioritizing WASH facilities has a direct link to improving menstrual hygiene and can create opportunities for the integration of menstrual hygiene management into policies and programmes. A good example is seen in CODE’s work on Effective -Water Sanitation and Hygiene (EWASH) project which it is currently implementing with the support of the USAID in Nigeria. CODE has successfully advocated for the passage of WASH laws in Niger and Taraba states. These laws will ensure States prioritise the provision of clean and potable water for residents and increase the building of WASH facilities, which can improve menstrual health of women and girls. The lack of access to WASH facilities can affect the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) like Goal 4.
May 28 of every year is set aside as Menstrual Hygiene Management Day (MHM Day), a day where Nonprofits, organized groups, private and government agencies come to celebrate the MH Day and advocate for good menstrual hygiene management. The theme for this year’s MHM helps to drive the narration IT’S TIME FOR ACTION with the hashtag #PeriodsInPandemic. Periods do not stop in a pandemic, so we can collectively as organizations, organized groups and individuals effectively advocate for the improvement of Menstrual hygiene management.