Menstrual poverty, or the inability to buy menstrual products, is a serious problem, especially in the developing world, one that menstruating girls and women alike. struggles for months and is a prominent topic on Menstrual hygiene dayobserved annually on May 28.
“I am very happy to come to work here because I get to meet and work with other people,” said Ms. Fatty, who operates a special machine that installs the pins on each pad. “This place gives me joy because I can forget my disability while working here.”
The sturdy, long-lasting pads she manufactures help women with mobility disabilities like her who have trouble going to the bathroom. After working there for a year, Miss Beo looks forward to continuing. Although her disabilities present many challenges and she struggled to make a living for a long time, her life has gotten better since she joined the project.
Keep the girls at school
In the Gambia, Africa’s smallest country, poverty is widespread across the country, but it hits more heavily in rural areas, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Some girls miss school for about five days a month due to lack of menstrual products and hygiene equipment.
The agency said the girls were afraid of staining their clothes and becoming a target of bullying or abuse. As a result, gender inequality increases; Boys will have an advantage because they attend school more often than girls, who are at higher risk of dropping out.
To address this problem, UNFPA has developed a project in Basse, the country’s Upper River region, to produce recyclable tampons. These pads are distributed at schools and hospitals in the local community.
The agency sees this as an opportunity to talk about body autonomy as well as sexual and reproductive health with young girls to reduce shame and stigma during menstruation.
Empowering young women
The project is also a way to empower young women in the community as it provides them with a stable job and the opportunity to learn new skills.
Since 2014, Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated on the 28th of the fifth month of each year because the menstrual cycle lasts an average of 28 days and each person menstruates an average of five days per month.
According to UNFPA, poor menstrual health and hygiene reduces basic rights – including the right to work and school – for women, girls and menstruating people.
It also exacerbates social and economic inequality, the agency said. In addition, insufficient resources for menstrual management, as well as patterns of exclusion and shame, undermine human dignity. Gender inequality, extreme poverty, humanitarian crises and harmful traditions can exacerbate deprivation and discrimination.
With that in mind, this year’s theme for Menstrual Hygiene Day is “Make menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030,” said UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem.
“A girl’s first period should be a happy fact of life, a sign of adulthood with dignity,” she said. “She should have access to everything she needs to understand and care for her body and attend school without stigma or shame.”
This day brings together governments, non-profit organizations, the private sector and individuals to promote good menstrual health and hygiene for people around the world. The event also aims to break the silence, raise awareness about menstrual issues and engage decision-makers to take action for better menstrual health and hygiene.
Learn more about what UNFPA is doing to alleviate poverty This.
UNFPA has four broad approaches to promoting and improving menstrual health worldwide:
- Safe bathroom and supplies: In 2017, 484,000 dignity kits, including pads, soap and underwear, were distributed in 18 countries affected by humanitarian emergencies. UNFPA also helps improve safety at relocation camps, distributing flashlights and installing solar lights at bathing areas. Promoting menstrual health information and skill building, projects include teaching girls to make reusable tampons or raising awareness about menstrual cups.
- Improve education and information: Through youth programs and comprehensive sex education efforts, UNFPA helps both men and women understand that menstruation is healthy and normal.
- Support national health systems: Efforts include promoting menstrual health and treating girls and women with menstrual disorders. The agency also purchases reproductive health items that may be useful for treating menstrual-related disorders.
- Collecting data and evidence on menstrual health and its link to global development: A long-overlooked research topic, UNFPA-supported surveys provide insight important identity of women and girls’ knowledge about their menstrual cycle, health and access to sanitation facilities.