Menstrual Hygiene Day
|Menstrual Hygiene Day|
|Also called||MHD or MH Day|
|Observed by||people worldwide|
|Significance||To break taboos surrounding menstruation, raise awareness of the importance of good menstrual hygiene management worldwide.|
|First time||May 28, 2014|
|Related to||Global Handwashing Day|
Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD, MH Day in short) is an annual awareness day on May 28 to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management (MHM). It was initiated by the German-based NGO WASH United in 2014 and aims to benefit women and girls worldwide. The 28th was selected to acknowledge that 28 days is the average length of the menstrual cycle.
In low-income countries, girls' and women's choices of menstrual hygiene materials are often limited by the costs, availability and social norms. Adequate sanitation facilities and access to feminine hygiene products are one part of the solution. Creating a culture that welcomes discussion and makes adequate education for women and girls is of equal importance. Research has found that not having access to menstrual hygiene management products can keep girls home from school during their period each month.
Menstrual Hygiene Day creates an occasion for publicizing information in the media, including social media. Public information campaigns can help to engage decision-makers in policy dialogue. The day offers an opportunity to actively advocate for the integration of menstrual hygiene management (MHM) into global, national and local policies and programmes.
Menstrual hygiene management can be particularly challenging for girls and women in developing countries, where clean water and toilet facilities are often inadequate. In addition, traditional cultures make it difficult to discuss menstruation openly. This limits women’s and adolescent girls’ access to relevant and important information about the normal functions of their own body. This directly affects their health, education and dignity. Access to information can be considered a human right.
In 2012, several important groups involved in public health began to break the silence on MHM and turn their attention to the issue globally, including grassroots organizers, social entrepreneurs and United Nations agencies.
In May 2013, WASH United used a 28-day social media campaign, for example on Twitter, called "May #MENSTRAVAGANZA" to generate awareness about menstruation and MHM as important considerations within water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) development initiatives. Those involved with the social media campaign, including WASH Advocates, Girls' Globe and Ruby Cup, were encouraged by the positive feedback for the "May #MENSTRAVAGANZA" and they decided to create a global awareness day for menstruation.
On 28 May 2014, many people around the world celebrated Menstrual Hygiene Day for the first time with rallies, exhibitions, movie screenings, workshops and speeches. There were 145 partners involved with the first MHD.
For 2015, a hashtag campaign on social media lent a light-hearted look at challenging societal norms with the tag #IfMenHadPeriods. The campaign by WaterAid, released in time for Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Day, created videos "spoof ads" where men are proud of having their periods and used "Manpons" instead of tampons. The campaign helped "raise awareness about women who don't have access to 'safe water, hygiene and sanitation,' when their monthly visitor comes along." Another aspect of the campaign is that it helped bring men into the conversation so that they could "help tackle the stigma in largely patriarchal societies and encourage women and girls to embrace their cycle with pride instead of shame." In Uganda, 2015 celebrations kicked off with a march to Parliament where a charter on MHM was signed and then the march continued to the National theatre for presentations by primary and secondary schools.
Menstrual hygiene day is meant to serve as a platform to bring together individuals, organisations, social businesses and the media to create a united and strong voice for women and girls around the world, helping to break the silence about menstrual hygiene management.
- To address the challenges and hardships many women and girls face during their menstruation.
- To highlight the positive and innovative solutions being taken to address these challenges.
- To catalyse a growing, global movement that recognizes and supports girls' and women’s rights and build partnerships among those partners on national and local level.
- To engage in policy dialogue and actively advocate for the integration of menstrual hygiene management (MHM) into global, national and local policies and programmes.
- To create an occasion for media work, including social media.
May 28 has symbolic meaning. May is the 5th month of the year and women menstruate an average of 5 days every month. Also, the menstrual cycle averages 28 days.
For partners working in developing countries, the day is not only an opportunity to raise awareness, but also to strengthen government accountability related to MHM issues. For example, in 2015 the Ministry of Health in Kenya launched a national MHM strategy. Kenya, jointly with UNICEF, held a virtual conference on Menstrual Hygiene Management in Schools that same year.
In May 2018, the Accra Metropolitan District Assembly in Ghana held Menstrual Health programs in urban poor schools. Over 700 girls attended each program and each received a complimentary packet of sanitary pads. This was supported by 'Satirtha - The Helping Hand' a non profit organization based in North Eastern state of Assam in India is working for a period friendly environment for adolescent girls and women in the region.
In 2017 there were about 350 events in 54 countries. In India alone there were 67 events. These events included educational events in schools, community rallies, concerts to raise awareness, advocacy workshops with governments, product donations.
On and around 28 May 2015, organisations and individuals from all over the world came together to recognise the second Menstrual Hygiene Day under the theme "Let‘s end the hesitation around menstruation". In total, 127 events in 33 countries took place, using the day as an opportunity to engage men and boys as well, link to other important women’s and girls’ issues, advance policy advocacy, reach the marginalised, and challenge societal norms that claim that menstrual periods are shameful or dirty.
There are currently 410 official partners. These include international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as Plan International, SNV, Plan, Water for People, Women in Europe for a Common Future. Further partners are many national and regional NGOs as well as suppliers of menstrual hygiene products, washable menstrual pads and menstrual cups.
- Feminine hygiene products
- Global Handwashing Day (15 October)
- Human right to water and sanitation
- Lists of special days: List of awareness days, List of commemorative days
- Sustainable Development Goal 6
- World Toilet Day (19 November)
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