Dakar, Senegal – Researchers from Cameroon, Niger and Senegal gathered in Dakar to discuss objectives and actions for a menstrual hygiene management (MHM) pilot study across the three countries. The study falls under the WSSCC/UN Women Joint Programme on Gender, Hygiene and Sanitation.
Held 21 to 22 March at the UN Women regional office for West and Central Africa, the meeting gathered experts from research centres and universities in the three pilot countries, knowledge users from government ministries, and consultants.
Studies on MHM behaviours and practices, undertaken in Cameroon and Senegal, have helped fill some of the knowledge gaps in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for women and girls in West and Central Africa. They have informed decision makers about the absence of MHM in public policies and the general web of silence and secrecy that surrounds the issue. As a result, initiatives to bring about change in sanitation policy were developed in Senegal, with the aim of redesigning facilities to better integrate the needs of women and girls, as well as pregnant women.
The main objective of the meeting was to discuss research tools, standardize action research processes and define a work plan for the chosen research institute that will lead and coordinate research on MHM in the pilot countries. The meeting also aimed to create synergy and build a platform for exchange and cooperation between researchers working on MHM.
With these aims in mind, knowledge users from the Ministry of Hydraulics and Sanitation, Senegal, as well as researchers, participated in the research meeting. The knowledge users guided the discussions, with the aim of securing research results that will support them in their planning processes. The condition of sanitary facilities, users’ experience and norms and standards were of particular interest to participants. For researchers, the social, cultural and economic determinants in the area of MHM also demanded particular attention.
The next steps will involve harmonization of the proposed research by a research institute, which will be tasked with developing the research protocols and data-gathering and processing tools to be used by all actors involved in the action research. These protocols and tools will be presented during a validation workshop which will be attended by several researchers who attended the research workshop.
The themes and issues of the research carried out in the three countries will inform future actions in the WASH sector, as well as in the main beneficiary communities. Dissemination strategies developed as part of the research programme should result in an improvement in MHM practices.
Following the workshop, participants agreed to continue their discussions and the sharing of information online. They will meet for a second time after a research protocol and other tools have been created by the institute to be selected by the Joint Programme team.
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