- Menstruation continues to be associated with stigma & taboo globally
- Girls and women are facing challenges in managing their period due to COVID
- 70% of global healthcare workforce is women who are also facing challenges
New Delhi: May 28 is observed as the Menstrual Hygiene Day across the globe. Every woman experiences a monthly biological cycle known as menstruation or a period, where the lining of the uterus breaks down and leaves the body through the vagina. Menstruation and menstrual hygiene continue to be met with silence and neglect all around the world. The mission of this day is to break the silence and taboo, raise awareness and change negative social norms surrounding menstrual hygiene management around the world. On the occasion of Menstrual Hygiene Day, here are five things to know.
1. Why May 28?
According to WASH United, a German non-profit organisation and founder of the Menstrual Hygiene Day, the average interval of a menstrual cycle is 28 days. On average, women and girls menstruate for 5 days per month. Hence 28-5, or the 28th of May was chosen to mark this day.
WASH United came up with the idea for a global day of action for Menstrual Hygiene Management in May 2013. The organisation carried out a 28-day campaign on social media to ‘test the waters’ and see if other organisations were interested in this issue, too.
The extremely positive feedback from organisations around the world prompted the idea to create a global day of action that would allow everyone working on menstrual hygiene management around the world to bundle their voices.
3. Importance Of Menstrual Hygiene Day
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 undermines the educational opportunities, health and overall social status of women and girls around the world, says WASH United.
As a result, millions of women and girls are kept from reaching their full potential.
At this stage, this issue really needs the spotlight of a dedicated day to break the silence and accelerate action, the organisation says on the importance of the day.
With Menstrual Hygiene day, not just WASH United, but several organisation and activists involved in the cause, aims to create a world where no woman or girl is held back because she menstruates, by 2030.
In order to ensure a world without period stigma and period poverty, every woman and girl needs to be empowered to manage her menstruation safely, hygienically, with confidence and without shame.
5. COVID-19 And Menstrual Hygiene
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns, it has become clear that the pandemic has severe secondary impacts on girls’ and women’s ability to manage their menstruation and their health.
As per many experts and organisations, poorest sections of the society have been the worst affected in accessing menstrual hygiene products during the pandemic.
However, a recent analysis by UNICEF titled ‘Mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 and menstrual health and hygiene’, shows that it is not just them, but also the healthcare workers who are on the frontline’s of fighting the virus.
Globally, women make up 70 percent of the health workforce and are more likely to be front-line health
workers, especially nurses, midwives and community health workers. These women face additional challenges in managing their menstruation, which may compromise their health and dignity as well as the ability of the health system to deliver.
As per the UNICEF report, these challenges include, but are not limited to:
- Facility managers are not aware of and/or do not prioritise Menstrual hygiene needs of female health care workers.
- Lack of menstrual hygiene materials for health care workers provided by health systems.
- Putting on and removing PPE prevents quick changing of menstrual hygiene materials, leading women to bleed into protective suits, suppress menstruation through the use of oral contraceptive pills, or potentially miss 5 days of work.
- Lack of access to WASH facilities at health care facilities, preventing women from managing basic hygiene including menstrual hygiene while at work.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.