First Ladies and Bikers: Innovative Ways to Celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day


WSSCC partners marked Menstrual Hygiene Day in imaginative and innovative ways

Menstrual Hygiene Day took place on 28 May to spread the word about the importance of Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in the lives of women and girls. The theme this year was Education.

We would like to thank our partners, members and national coordinators for their great efforts for the day, and for their on-going commitment to break the silence on menstruation. They also shared our social media pack widely, stimulating a ground swell of chat and better awareness around MHM.

Some highlights of the day follow:


Men Take The Lead

Urmila Chanam, founder of Breaking the Silence and a WSSCC MHM champion, encouraged members of The India Bull Riders - India’s largest Royal Enfield motorcycle club – to organize a 40 kilometre motorbike ride in Bengaluru to support stigma-free menstruation.

The Men Take Lead rally captured the imagination of local press and supporters. Some 150 bikers and 200 supporters – from civil society to government officials – took part in the ride and attended the rally, sporting MHM stickers on their helmets.


Police Commissioner of Bangalore City Police, Praveen Sood, IPS flagged off the ride as a guest of honour. The Deputy Director of the Department of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of Karnataka, Dr. Veena V. joined in as a pillion rider.

The distance of the ride symbolized the 40 years a woman menstruates in her lifetime.

“Menstruation is considered a taboo in households where mothers do not talk about it to their daughters and girls walk into this phase ill- equipped to manage it. Why should a natural life giving phenomenon be shrouded in shame and silence? It is time for us to educate people and make changes at the household level,” Urmila Chanam said.

At their destination, bikers and supporters took a pledge to end stigma around menstruation in homes, schools, workplaces and communities.

Breaking the Silence is a campaign to put an end to the myths, taboos and shame around menstruation. The initiative promotes education for girls and women in rural India on the hygienic management of menstruation and the safe and environmentally-friendly disposal of sanitary material.
More on the event here:

Pushing the Boundaries on the MHM Dialogue

In New Delhi, a one-day event took place organized by Dasra in partnership with WaterAid India, Research Triangle Institute International (RTI), PATH, Zariya, WSSCC and Development Solutions.

Discussions took place on sustainable solutions for the MHM value chain, from normalizing menstruation to the product landscape and waste management. The event provided an opportunity for multi-stakeholder engagement using interactive multimedia, live polling, an MHM lab and a product gallery walk.

The MHM lab, which is an important part of WSSCC’s MHM programme, was installed in a tent with demonstrations on how to use it as a tool for education at scale. The tent demonstrated how it serves as a popular ‘safe space’ for women and adolescent girls to understand the issues around menstruation.

Shared by Teresia Kagendo from the Global Sanitation Fund-supported Kenya Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Programme (K-SHIP)

MHM celebrations took place in Embu county at ACK Cianthia- Kanyuabora. WASH experts, local officials, school children and community members attended the event, where parents committed to take a lead role in educating their children about menstruation.

The Makueni County government invited its leaders and communities to mark the day. County Governor Prof. Kivutha Kibwana pledged to end the silence on menstruation, becoming the first County Governor in Kenya to be crowned as an MHM Champion. He was joined by his wife, the First Lady Nazi Kivuta, who is also a WSSCC MHM Champion. She  has supported the training and mobilization of 14 County First Ladies and 80 county level practitioners, and has mobilized the support of the county government.
The celebrations - which included education sessions about menstruation for young people - were widely shared on social media.
Celebrations took place on 25 May in the city of Rufisque, led by the Santé, Mobile Sénégal NGO as part of the WSSSCC/UN Women Joint Programme on Gender, Hygiene and Sanitation.
The ceremony brought together local authorities, representatives of the ministries of education and health, religious leaders, medical staff, women's associations and community actors, and involved the participation of young girls in good numbers.

An MHM tent arranged by UN Women provided a place where more than 80 girls used the As We Grow Up leaflet and Menstrual Wheel to learn about menstruation.

A live radio show featuring discussion about menstruation was broadcast. Shared by Arfang Insa Bodian

Also in Senegal, local authorities in Agnam Goly marked the day with speeches and activities. Pictured here, the Mayor of Agnam’s representative advocated for parents' awareness of MHM. She stressed that menstruation indicates a normal part of maturity and should not be a taboo subject.

A sketch performance about school absenteeism during menstruation helped students to accept that it is good to speak out about menstruation.
National Coordinator, Achille Lokossou shared images of the first ever Menstrual Hygiene Day celebrations in the country.
The day was marked on Saturday 27th May with calls for more education about menstruation.
More on the event in this engaging blog from IRC.