Written by Rebecca Fishman and Jordan Teague
Tomorrow is Menstrual Hygiene Day – a day to celebrate menstruation and to address the challenges that women and girls around the world face every month. Many live without ways to safely and effectively manage their periods; instead, they live with taboo, stigma and silence.
The good news is that there are people all over the world doing something about it! The Menstrual Hygiene Day coalition has over 125 partners working to break the silence, educate women and girls about their bodies, and provide innovative solutions for menstrual hygiene management. Their activities include producing reusable products; delivering kits; one-for-one exchange programs; advocacy and awareness-building; and integrated water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and menstrual hygiene programming.
Many of our partners are working to raise awareness and help women and girls manage a natural and healthy process. Groups like WASH United, MITU Foundation and “Stigma Stopper” Lorrie Lynn King of 50 Cents.Period. are bringing global attention to the basic needs for menstrual management, as well as highlighting solutions. Their bold voices are essential to this movement.
Social Entrepreneurship and Business
Without access to affordable sanitary products, women and girls use unhygienic materials like newspapers and old rags. Social entrepreneurs are filling the market with innovative, sustainable and eco-friendly products. A businessman named Arunachalam Muruganantham is empowering rural women in India through sanitary pad production, delivery, and education schemes. He is the subject of the new documentary, Menstrual Man.
Businesses are partnering to ensure products are available for those who need them. Groups like Auntie Daisy, Cora, and Thinx offer one-for-one exchange programs. For every sale of their product, an equivalent is given to women and girls in developing countries. AFRIpads’ exchange program is done in conjunction with the eco-friendly Lunapads, whose Co-Founder Madeleine Shaw spearheads G Day, a new social movement to empower girls as they transition into adolescence.
In another eco-friendly approach to pads and tampons, groups like Ruby Cup, DivaCup, and Lunette produce reusable menstrual cups. New initiatives like Helloflo offer innovative monthly subscription services for menstrual management; their “Camp Gyno” commercial will certainly make you smile.
Access to clean water, soap, and a private place to go to the bathroom are all critical to effective menstrual hygiene management. Many terrific organizations are integrating WASH and menstrual hygiene solutions in schools, homes, and places of employment. WaterAid, SNV Netherlands Development Organization, Plan International, PATH, Save the Children, the UNICEF-led WASH in Schools Partnership, and the United States Agency for International Development are some examples.
These are some of the many wonderful groups working to help women and girls manage their periods, stay in school, and generate income. When they thrive, so do their families and communities.
Join the movement! Take action tomorrow and help strengthen this important conversation.
Rebecca Fishman and Jordan Teague focus on the importance of water, sanitation, and hygiene to the health, education, empowerment, and safety of women and children for WASH Advocates.
Cover image c/o LunaPads & AFRIpads