World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2024

Together for a Period Friendly World

After so many campaigns about menstrual hygiene you would think by now that menstruation would be readily accepted but the stats below paint a different picture.

  • 1 in 10 girls in Africa miss school during their period due to lack of awareness and accessibility of menstrual products.
  • 500 million people worldwide lack access to menstrual products leading to health issues.

We need to go back to the drawing board but it is with great honour that I celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day. This is a day that affords us the chance to talk about this important phenomenon, making girls and women feel comfortable, safe and secure.

Let’s take a brief look at the timeline of Menstrual Hygiene Day.

  • In 2012, public health organizations began to address menstrual hygiene management (MHM) globally. In 2013, WASH United’s “May #MENSTRAVAGANZA” social media campaign raised awareness about MHM.
  • In 2014, the first Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD) was celebrated on May 28 with 145 partners involved. The day aimed to break the silence and stigma surrounding menstruation.
  • In 2015, the #IfMenHadPeriods campaign went viral, using humor to raise awareness about MHM and encourage men to join the conversation.
  • Today, Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated annually on May 28, promoting safe and dignified menstrual hygiene management for all.

Why work needs to be done: I applaud the progress made so far. While I love what I do, I have been opportune to see the world from people’s lenses and sometimes the view is not pleasant. On learning about this year’s theme, “Together for a #PeriodFriendlyWorld,” it reminded me of a story. I love to tell stories because they are learning avenues that can help structure the way we know and view things.

Two sisters in secondary school stopped getting monthly pad supplies from their mother. Coincidentally, the mother was experiencing menopause, and the girls were privy to all the physical and emotional changes taking place with their mother. 

When the pad supply stopped, the girls thought it was due to financial constraints, but after three months, they knew it was the new reality. They had to use fabrics and even newspapers to manage their flow, which caused irritation, infections, odor, and embarrassment. I am not going to go into the teasing that took place at school, but it was a trying period.

When they complained, their mother callously thanked them for ‘sacrificing’ pads due to supposed financial constraints – a sharp contrast to her spending on other household and comfort items. The girls had to save up to get pads; it was not easy, but they had support from friends. You see, this story hurts more because this ill thing was done by a fellow female, but I am glad they had support.

I am not saying that it would have been acceptable if it was a male figure, but their mother should have known better because she experienced menstruation.  Let me state here, sanitary pads are essential toiletries, not a luxury to be sacrificed in some misguided opportunity cost agenda.

This is the reason I said work needs to be done; imagine a woman thinking that menstruation is not that much of a big deal? I don’t even want to think of other females who suffer from the same fate as the scenario above. Let me put out a disclaimer: it is understandable if the mother did not have the financial means.

So, how do we create a period-friendly world? We need to do the following:

  1. Make menstrual products available by providing affordable pads and other products, especially in poor areas. Establish programs that give free pads to those who need them like Scotland and Spain which distribute menstrual products for free at schools and other public spaces.
  1. Teach period education in schools and start the conversation early, as girls as young as 8 years old may already be menstruating. Including period education in school curricula helps normalize the topic and prepares students for this natural part of life.
  1. Create period friendly spaces by installing pad dispensers and proper trash cans in public places, making bathrooms accessible and comfortable for all. This includes ensuring that bathrooms are safe, clean, and well-maintained, with adequate privacy and disposal options for menstrual products.
  1. Encourage open talk by creating workplaces and schools that support menstrual needs, where employees and students feel comfortable discussing their periods without fear of stigma or judgment.

As a social educator and gender advocate, please join me in making the world period-friendly. Picture a society where menstruation is seen as a natural part of life. We can make this a reality by collaboration; please share your suggestions on how we can achieve this. Thank you.

World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2024

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top