What is Menstrual Hygiene Day?
Menstrual Hygiene Day (28th May) is a day of global advocacy to promote good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) for women and girls. It aims to engage non-profits, government agencies, the media and private sector to break the silence around menstrual hygiene and to work towards changing negative social norms. The day also works to capture the interest of decision-makers in order to increase the priority of menstrual hygiene-related issues. Persisting taboos and stigma, a lack of education, limited access to hygienic menstrual products and poor sanitation infrastructure undermine the educational opportunities, health and overall social status of women and girls around the world. It is well documented that girls skip school during menstruation and that women miss work. As a result, millions of women and girls are kept from reaching their full potential.
Who started Menstrual Hygiene Day? How successful has it been?
Menstrual Hygiene Day was created in 2013 by WASH United, a German-based NGO which is still very much involved. Menstrual Hygiene Day has gone from strength to strength and is now supported by many big names, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Procter and Gamble. In 2018, Menstrual Hygiene Day enjoyed global success with 503 events across 71 countries, more than 650 reports in the media and over 700,000 interactions on social media. We hope to contribute to an even more successful recognition of Menstrual Hygiene Day in 2019.
How does African Initiatives contribute to good practice in MHM?
Our two-year ‘Fit for School’ project works in collaboration with our partner Childreach Tanzania and aims to improve WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) conditions in schools. In rural Tanzania, WASH facilities are inadequate. School toilets are badly maintained and often there are no doors for privacy. UNICEF found in 2013 that 84% of schools in Tanzania do not have any hand-washing facilities.
Our project reaches 1,590 children and 24 teachers across 3 primary schools in Kilimanjaro region. The project incorporates learning about the importance of menstrual hygiene and the repair of toilet facilities to provide clean and secure places for girls during menstruation.
In addition, the project will support teachers to create and manage WASH clubs and train WASH peer educators, who will spread awareness about the importance of hand-washing and good menstrual hygiene management. The project will also train 31 school committee members. The committees will use their platform to encourage their communities to get involved to create a sense of project ownership. You can read more about the project here.
How can you get involved?
To celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day and help raise awareness of period poverty, please get involved by sharing information about the day on social media, and speaking to friends and family about the issue. Together, we can educate and advocate for action on menstrual hygiene management.
#MHDay2019 #ItsTimeForAction #MenstruationMatters
The images in this blog were taken by African Initiatives’ implementing partner, Childreach Tanzania.