You are currently viewing Menstrual Hygiene is a human right in the eyes of every girl.

Menstrual Hygiene is a human right in the eyes of every girl.

May 28 is Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day); a key calendar day for FMP dedicated to bringing awareness around the vital role that good menstrual hygiene management plays in empowering women and adolescent girls in the hard-to-reach communities of Uganda. This day is an annual awareness day aimed to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management, and raise awareness about the issues faced by those who don’t have access to sanitary products world wide.

Globally, at least 500 million women and girls lack proper access to menstrual hygiene facilities thus difficult experiences with menstruation, including inadequate toilet facilities and materials, menstruation stigma, and inadequate knowledge about the menstrual cycle (World Bank 2018). As many girls lack access to affordable hygienic menstrual products, they are forced to improvise old clothes, paper, cotton or wool pieces, and even leaves to manage their menstrual bleeding. According to research, 28% of the adolescent girls miss a minimum of four school days per cycle, which leads to poor performance in class compared to boys. This situation is even worse for pupils especially in lower primary who are experiencing periods for the first time.

Despite the fact that many civil society organizations and activists have highlighted the need to encourage positive social norms around the menstrual experience to enable behavioral change, ongoing menstrual taboos in many cultures continue to negatively affect girls’ confidence and hinder their ability to manage their menstruation with dignity, safety and comfort. Menstruation is about more than just access to sanitary pads and appropriate toilets – though those are important. It is also about ensuring women and girls live in an environment that values and supports their ability to manage their menstruation with dignity.

For the modern woman, periods can be a minor nuisance: uncomfortable, yes, but something understandable, expected and safely manageable hygienically and easily. Unlike for millions of girls in Ugandan vulnerable communities, who have not had the benefit of mothers who understand their menstrual cycle. Most men (fathers) don’t understand this as well, and relate menstruation to being dirty or something that makes girls weak and marginal.

For millions of women and girls, there are neither good toilet facilities, nor sexuality educations-possibly not even the chance to go to school. For some, there may not be menstrual hygiene supplies, save for a cloth that has been used and reused-and there may be no knowledge about what it means to have your period yet this is something normal and natural.

Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) rarely appears in national government policies or advocacy agendas. On a good day, it might be a component of national sexuality education curriculum, but this presumes that one has to school so as to get this information. In addition to this,

Curriculums in most Ugandan schools limit girls from accessing puberty/sexuality education as most primary teachers see this as a secondary school topic. 70% of science teachers are male who don’t have experiential knowledge in menstruation.

This lack of information can have a powerful ripple effect, leading women and girls to be subjected to stigma, discrimination and violence whereas others remain in a state where food, water, shelter or other shared goods are withheld from them. Above all, taboos, cultural norms and the lack of education around menstruation can contribute to higher school dropout rates, and in turn, greater likelihood of early marriage and/or early pregnancy, and a transgenerational cycle of poverty.

In honor of Menstrual Hygiene Day, FMP has organized a menstrual hygiene awareness week to normalize menstrual hygiene discussions within communities, to ensure no girl misses classes or drops out of school due to lack of access to menstrual hygiene. Join us in challenging menstruation stigma by donating menstrual products to more than 5000 school girls in Wakiso District, or by sponsoring this planned event at Nkumba Primary school under the UNFPA theme, ‘Action and Investment in Menstrual Hygiene and Health.”

Leave a Reply