The month of May is a favourite at Diva International Inc. for many reasons. The sun is shining, flowers are blooming and it plays host to one of our favourite days: Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD).
Organized by Wash United, and together with close to 300 partners from around the globe, MHD is a global effort to draw attention to the women’s right to hygienically manage their periods, no matter where they live.
Why does it matter?
In other parts of the world, women have very different experiences during their period. Girls and women in developing countries miss 20 percent of their education or work because they are unable to attend while they are menstruating. This can be due to insufficient water and sanitation facilities, poor access to menstrual materials and a lack of menstrual hygiene education.
In order to change the attitudes surrounding menstrual hygiene management (MHM), there needs to be education. However, in many countries menstruation is still considered taboo and many women are left in the dark about what is happening to their bodies and how they can manage their cycle.
Did You Know…
- 83% of girls in Burkina Faso and 77% in Niger have no place at school to change their sanitary menstrual materials.
- Many women and girls use unsanitary materials such as old rags, husks, dried leaves, grass, ash, sand or newspapers because they do not have access to affordable, hygienic and safe resources.
- By the time a girl finishes grade 8, she will already have missed up to 30 weeks of school.
- Commercial menstrual pads can be too expensive for low-income girls and women to afford. In Mukuru, Nairobi many girls aged 10?19 have reported having sex with older men to pay for basic items, such as pads.
- In one study by HERProject, 73% of the Bangladeshi garment workers they interviewed miss work for an average of 6 days per month (resulting in unpaid work days) due to vaginal infections caused by unsanitary menstrual materials.
- 48 % of girls in Iran and 10 % of girls in India believe that menstruation is a disease.
- Chhaupadi’, a practice that forces menstruating women and girls to sleep in separate huts or sheds (and subjects them to other harsh restrictions) is still widely observed in many rural areas.
- In Western parts of Uganda, country cattle owners do not let menstruating women attend to their cows for fear that the milk may turn bloody.
Changing the Future for Women
While many of these facts are surprising, organizations and individuals are working to create a unified voice for women and girls around the world to break the silence surrounding MHM.
- Looking at current market trends, more and more women in developing countries are getting access to hygienic menstrual products.
- The Kenyan government will spend over USD $2 million to provide pads to 678,770 disadvantaged school girls and Kenya eliminated the import tax on menstrual products in 2011 to reduce costs.
- Many NGOs & social businesses are making enormous progress on delivering menstrual hygiene education
- There are many men working to de-stigmatize and break the silence around menstruation by advocating for improved MHM.
You can get involved in MHD by sharing the many resources put together by the team at WASH United. Share the MHD infographic and #MenstruationMatters sign to your Facebook or Twitter profile, or attend an event! You can also show your support beyond MHD, whether financially or through your time, by giving to one of the incredible organizations who are helping to provide women and girls with accessible and affordable menstrual hygiene products.
At Diva International Inc., MHM means a lot to us and we believe that all women deserve to manage their period safely and with dignity. That is why, in recognition of Menstrual Hygiene Day, Diva International Inc. is partnering with Lunapads and their One4Her program, committing to donating an AFRIPad kit (complete with 5 pads and 1 carrying bag) to the girls and women of Pader Girls Academy for every DivaCup sold on Lunapads.com during the month of May.
Help us reach our goal of distributing 500 kits; purchase The DivaCup today to help support girls’ and women’s futures around the world!
Reference Guide: All facts were drawn from the Menstrual Hygiene Day Fact Sheets produced by WASH United. View them here.