On the 28th of May 2018, Menstrual Hygiene Day was celebrated the world over in order to raise awareness on the issue, break the silence on MHM and break down taboos, myths and stigmas that disempower girls.
To commemorate this day, WSSCC prepared a social media kit and encouraged its members to use it for virtual or real MH Day events in their countries. Many did and a final report of national activities is being compiled and will be published in the coming weeks.
As a key global activity, WSSCC organised an online seminar in the form of a “Tweet Chat” bringing together experts from various sectors in the field to discuss key issues related to menstrual hygiene. The panellists included: Inga Winkler, Human Rights Lecturer, Columbia University; Virginia Kamowa, MHM Technical Expert, WSSCC Secretariat; Ana M Gren, Policy Specialist Water Resources & Sanitation, SIDA; Kamini Prakash, WSSCC India; and Thorsten Kiefer and Ina Jurga from WASH United.
The discussions attracted a large audience using and following the hashtag #LetsTalkPeriod; with 339 tweets in the run up, during and post the discussion (6am 28th May – 11am 29th May). The average reach of engaged ‘influencers’ was 4,215, so the discussion was opened up to a large audience of thanks to the engagement of influential organisations and individuals.
The topics covered by the Tweet Chat included MHM in WASH, taboos and myths, the role of men and boys, innovative tools and approaches, working with government and policy makers, and whether providing sanitary materials addresses the whole problem. At the end of this article is a photo gallery of Tweets offering insight into some of the panellists’ responses to the questions posed by WSSCC, as well as some of the comments made by other engaged participants.
The global theme of empowerment for this year’s MH Day resonated well throughout the discussions, with panellists and the public alike relating the various issues under discussion to the negative impact they have on women and girls’ empowerment. For example, empowering visually and hearing impaired women and girls by creating MHM tools accessible to them, addressing dignity for women in menstruation beyond the WASH sector, how taboos and myths stigmatise menstruation and exclude girls from society, and engaging boys and men to create a supportive environment to empower women and girls in managing their menstruation. Reaching a large audience with these kinds of messages is crucial to raising awareness of a holistic approach to menstrual hygiene which is key to ensuring that women and girls not only have access to products and facilities, but they can feel pride and dignity around their periods as opposed to shame and fear.
WSSCC is thankful to everyone who took part in and followed this discussion, and encourages everyone to learn from and share these arguments on the wider stage to promote the Menstrual Hygiene issue. Special thanks go to our panellists for providing such provoking and varied inputs, and congratulations also go out to all MH advocates over the world who commemorated MH Day with a wide variety of activities.
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