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WSSCC and Swedish hygiene products company SCA co-hosted a meeting at the UN headquarters on Monday, 11 May, entitled “From Shame to Pride: Unlocking Potential for Women and Girls through Menstrual Hygiene Management”. The session brought together a wide variety of delegates from government, academia, UN, NGOs, journalists and the private sector, which provided for engaging discussion. (See a video from the event here.)
The meeting was opened by Daniel Petterssen, First Secretary and focal point for the Sustainable Development Goals from the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations in New York. Mr. Petterssen focused on the importance of women and girls in the SDGs and Sweden’s continued commitment to women’s empowerment post-2015. There were presentations by Kersti Strandqvist, Senior VP Sustainability from SCA, Archana Patkar from WSSCC, and Satvika Chalasani, Technical Specialist for Adolescent Girls from UNFPA. Josephine Edwall-Björklund. Senior VP Communications from SCA presented a film of the WSSCC/SCA partnership to date during the Volvo Ocean Race, and highlighted the importance of Team SCA (an all-female racing team) as role models for women: following their dreams and being proud of being a woman.
A facilitated discussion allowed delegates from many backgrounds and country contexts to ask questions and make statements. One message rang clear: It is no longer a conversation about awareness-raising, or advocacy… it is time to take action. Many highlighted successes in programming and policy (India’s national sanitation policy has done well to include Menstrual Hygiene in their indicators, as well as linked budgets), as well as areas for improvement and further research.
Chris Williams closed the meeting with a powerful statement about the need for men to talk to their sons about girl’s menstruation, as “it is not just a conversation to be had with girls, but with boys as well”. After the meeting, many delegates stayed behind, exchanging stories and cards, with promises to keep the conversation going.
The New York event was one in a series of knowledge- and awareness-raising activities by WSSCC and SCA as part of their public-private partnership on menstrual hygiene managment. The partnership was launched in November 2014. Read more here about the partnership.