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Why menstrual hygiene day matters

From South Africa, Mexico and India to Germany and the US, people have come together on May 28 to mark #WorldMenstrualHygieneDay and shout loud and clear that menstrual hygiene matters!

The international MH day was initiated by the German non-profit WASH United in 2013 to raise awareness poor menstrual hygiene caused by a lack of education on the issue, persisting taboos and stigma, limited access to hygienic menstrual products and poor sanitation infrastructure.

All of these factors undermine the educational opportunities, health and overall social status of women and girls around the world. As a result, millions of women and girls are kept from reaching their full potential.

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The good

317,000,000 people reached and 724 events organised around the world

Last year's MH day saw huge figures of participants and events organised the world over, as seen on MH Day's Impact Report. The day saw school events take place, educating young boys and girls about menstrual hygiene rights and empowerment. It saw local communities come together alongside global leaders and spokespeople. The day was shared and advocated for by hundreds of thousands of social media users and reached global media headlines.

As states by MH organisation, "before MH Day started, the topic of MHM was shrouded in silence. In 2019, the only two places in the world that remained silent were Greenland and Antarctica." Adding that, "To achieve lasting change, every social cause must cross a tipping point where it enters the mainstream and becomes a broader movement for change."

The bad

Millions of girls and young women miss school because of menstrual poverty

UNICEF has estimated that roughly 1 in 10 girls in Africa miss school because of their periods each year. Without access to proper education, resources, girls are often forced to stay home from school during their periods, which leads them to miss anywhere from 10-20 per cent of school days. Sometimes, they drop out of school completely.

Period poverty is not a local issue to anyone continent, however. Across the world, from the US and the UK to India and Bolivia, girls are still out of school for the simple reason of not having access or the money to sanitary products.

Bildschirmfoto 2018-06-19 um 17.29.23

Scotland is breaking the shameful cycle of period poverty

by Shira Jeczmien

After less than one year since its pilot launch, Scotland is rolling out a free sanitary products programme for low-income girls and women.
More from FairPlanet

Reusable sanitary pads keep Ethiopia's girls in school

by Bob Koigi

In Ethiopia, as is the case with many Africa countries, close to 75 per cent of women and girls have no access to menstrual supplies necessary to manage their periods.

Ending the stigma: How to start a menstrual health revolution in Myanmar

by Henriette Ceyrac

Pan Ka Lay work to dispel the socio-cultural stigma and increase education surrounding menstruation in Myanmar.

Zimbabwe: Free sanitary wear program for rural schoolgirls

by Cyril Zenda

In mid-November when Zimbabwe’s Finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, unveiled the country’s 2020 budget, he had surprises for many people. One of these people was Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education, who for many years has passionately lobbied for provision of sanitary pads to school girls and a tax regime that makes sanitary wear affordable to every woman in the country.
sanitary pads

South African government on a test drive for sanitary pads

by Shasha Seakamela

In many poor communities, sanitary pads, if available, are very low down on the list of necessities. After many years of promises, the South African government has recently kick-started three pilot projects of issuing sanitary pads to girls in the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Country focus

Colombia is the fourth largest country in South America, situated at the north tip of the continent and bordering Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Panama. It is one of the most populous nations of the continent, with 49 million citizens.

Colombia has substantial oil reserves and is a major producer of gold, silver, emeralds, platinum and coal. It is often known as the world's producer of coca leaves, and cocaine. The country has been through tumultuous decades-long violent conflict involving outlawed armed groups, drug cartels and gross violations of human rights, although, since 2002 under the country has been making significant progress towards improving security. In 2016, the government and Farc signed a historic peace accord that saw the 52 year-long conflict come to a seeming halt.