Menstruation is part of our lives! Women and girls go through this period once every month for close to forty years of their lives. Approximately seven years of the life of every female is for menstruation. Although menstruation is a major part of women’s health, many shy away from talking about it because of the sigma that usually goes with it.
As we mark World Menstrual Hygiene Day, (28th May) lets collectively consider these facts from UNICEF to inform ourselves and others.
- About half of the schools in low-income countries lack adequate, sanitation and hygiene crucial for girls and female teachers to manage their period. Inadequate facilities can affect girls’ experience at school, causing them to miss school during their period.
- The first period can be met with either celebration, fear or concern. For every girl, this signifies an important transition to womanhood – a time when they would benefit from the support of family and friends.
- Many girls do not have complete and accurate understanding of menstruation as a normal biological process. Educating girls before their first period and, importantly, boys on menstruation, builds their confidence, contributes to social solidarity and encourages healthy habits.
- Poor menstrual hygiene can pose physical health risks and has been linked to reproductive and urinary tract infections. Many girls and women have limited options for affordable menstrual materials.
- Girls and women with disabilities and special needs face additional challenges with menstrual hygiene and are affected disproportionately with lack of access to toilets with water and materials to manage their period.
- Many women and girls do not have access to materials to manage their menstruation, especially in times of emergency — natural disasters and conflicts. In emergencies, UNICEF provides dignity kits to women and girls, which include sanitary pads, a flashlight and whistle for personal safety when using the toilet.
Through the Promoting Adolescent Girls Safe Spaces (PASS) and the Safe and Protective Environment for Adolescent Development (SPREAD) Projects, International Needs Ghana is investing knowledge to empower adolescent girls in Ghana, with information on adolescent reproductive health and rights. Menstrual Hygiene Management is an integral part of the education. The two projects have equipped more than One thousand (1000) adolescent girls with knowledge on producing hygienic sanitary pads and provided the girls with already made sanitary pads. Our education programme has integrated menstrual hygiene management into the extra-curricular activities of our partner schools.
Menstruation is not a problem; poor menstrual hygiene is. How can you also help to make menstrual health, a pleasing story?