May 28 marks Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD), a global platform promoting menstrual hygiene management as well as raising awareness of the challenges women and girls worldwide face due to their menstruation. First celebrated in 2014, MHD organisers WASH United hope to ‘create a world in which every woman and girl can manage her menstruation in a hygienic way – wherever she is – in privacy, safety and with dignity‘.
Here is why Menstruation Matters:
Menstruation Matters Worldwide
Women and girls around the world need to manage their menstruation during their reproductive age. The specific challenges that women and girls experience can differ widely depending on things like social norms, customs, education, geography and socio-economic factors. Managing menstruation with normalcy and dignity remains a challenge everywhere.
Menstruation Matters to Boys and Men
Taboos and negative social norms around menstruating are perpetuated by society as a whole, including by men. It is therefore critical to include men and boys in conversations about menstruation in order to foster a supportive environment for women and girls.
Menstruation Matters In All Areas of Life
Women and girls need to be able to manage their menstruation in all areas of life – at home, in school, at work, and when travelling. To ensure women and girls can adequately manage their menstruation; their needs need to be taken into account in all areas of life.
Menstruation is a Matter of Equality
Women and girls can miss out on education, work and other opportunities in life when they cannot manage their menstruation. Taboos and myths related to menstruation often portray women and girls as inferior to men and boys, which undermines gender equality and often constitutes discrimination.
Menstruation is a Matter of Inclusion
Women and girls with disabilities often have specific requirements to enable them manage their menstruation with normalcy and dignity. These need to be taken into account in all areas of life.
Menstruation is an issue of Human Rights
Many human rights are important to ensure that women and girls can manage their menstruation adequately and with dignity. This includes the right to water, the right to sanitation, the right to health and access to health-related information including on sexual and reproductive health. When women and girls cannot adequately manage their menstruation with dignity, it impacts on their human rights including the right to education, the right to work, the right to health, and on gender equality and dignity more broadly.
Menstruation Matters to Transgender People
Transgender and intersex people may also menstruate if they were born biologically female. They often face specific challenges in managing their menstruation with normalcy and dignity, especially with regard to the use of facilities and access to health services.
What you can do:
- Help normalise menstruation by talking openly to your friends, family, and colleagues
- Engage with your workplace to make sure it provides a safe environment where women and girls can manage their menstruation with normalcy and dignity
- Support initiatives that help women and girls with less privilege manage their menstruation with dignity. We support Share the Dignity.
- Engage with your local MP to put menstrual management on the agenda and to axe the period tax. Find out more here.
Illustrations: Lexi Keelan