Menstruation is a biological process just like defecation or urination. Maintaining hygiene during menses is important for women’s well-being, mobility, and dignity.
The topic of menstruation is cloaked in secrecy and negativity; in many countries it is associated with cultural and religious taboos, and is therefore completely neglected. This is also unfortunately the case in many WASH programmes.
Breaking a taboo starts with broaching the subject. The best place to do so is in schools, where the topic can be incorporated into hygiene and sexual education. This requires sound knowledge (and in some cases also the courage of teachers) on how to use sanitary items and related issues.
The production of low-cost sanitary napkins and tampons, locally produced to a high level of quality, is gaining momentum in several countries. It can even create small business opportunities for entrepreneurs, particularly women.
Menstrual Hygiene Management also has to consider gender-sensitive facilities, which provides women with a private and safe space in which to attend to their menses with sufficient clean water and hygienic disposal receptacles that are ecologically sound. Such facilities, however, are still far from widespread.
WSSCC aims to break the silence around Menstrual Hygiene Management. We had exciting case studies and exhibitions during our Global Forum and our Celebrating Womanhood: Menstrual Hygiene Management event on 8th March 2013, and we are bringing the topic to attention in sessions during the World Water Week, AfricaSan, Sacosan, and in our publications.
Please find as follows the declaration of Archana Patkar, WSSCC Programme manager, Networking & Knowledge Management, on 8th March 2013 during the Celebrating Womanhood : Menstrual Hygiene Management event