Menstrual Hygiene Day: Menstruation is still a stigma. Let's change it!Published: May 27, 2022 Reading time: 2 minutes
Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD) will take place on May 28 for the ninth year running. It will draw attention to the fact that millions of women and girls worldwide do not experience their periods in a safe, dignified, and hygienic environment. In many countries, girls cannot go to school, meet their families, or work because of their period—this needs to change. And why May 28? Twenty-eight days is considered the average length of the menstrual cycle, and five days is the average length of menstruation: 28/05.
According to the UN, 1.8 billion people menstruate every month. Whether they are women, girls, transgender or non-binary people, millions lack the opportunity to get through their menstruation in dignity without being excluded from the collective or ignored by those around them. This day also seeks to spread awareness about menstruation, and hygiene during it, to overcome taboos and answer unspoken questions.
The first Menstrual Hygiene Day took place in 2014. Back then, it aimed to spread awareness about hygiene—which is still at a low level in many parts of the world—and break the taboo surrounding it. Even though menstruation is a natural process of the female body, it is not openly discussed—even in countries that consider themselves developed. Menstruation is seen in some cultures as a sign that a girl is ready to be a wife and mother, even though she is still a child. Many girls stay at home because of their periods—they stop attending school and may never return because of poor sanitation, lack of privacy, or ridicule from those around them.
Buying pads or tampons, a natural thing for most in the West, is unthinkable in countries in Africa, Asia, and even parts of the US. Their price and availability are limited. Further complicating matters is that women from developing countries often do not know about them. In many countries, women and girls are often left to make their own sanitary products from available materials, most often pieces of cloth that are often unsuited to the task. Using improvised pads and tampons can lead to infectious diseases, which carry other stigmatising consequences. Menstrual Hygiene Day is conceived to stimulate a social debate on the costs and availability of sanitary products. Similarly, on this day, many institutions are working to raise awareness of menstruation issues in developing countries and propose practical solutions to the problems faced by millions of women and girls throughout the world.
People in Need has been working on the issue of menstruation awareness in missions in Nepal, Myanmar, Ethiopia and Angola. We organise menstruation workshops for women and girls from different communities where they can learn about what happens to their bodies during menstruation, what hygiene practices they should follow, and habits they should develop. Additionally, they are given eco-friendly and safe products such as pads or tampons. The participants are also encouraged to spread the message of safe menstrual hygiene to their relatives and peers.