27 July 2018

Putting Menstrual Health on the 2030 Agenda

Menstrual Health Management (MHM) is an integral part of every girl’s life, but the fact remains that many girls lack access to proper resources to manage their menstrual health in safe, hygienic ways. For many girls, menstrual hygiene leads them to be ostracized by their communities, develop health issues, and even interferes with their education. In India alone, almost a third of girls are unable to attend school during their period because they lack access to proper facilities and sanitary products (UNICEF). Consequently, many fall behind their male classmates in their studies. 

To bring attention to issues surrounding MHM, the Menstrual Hygiene Alliance, Simavi, Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council, Global Citizen, and WASH United held a side event on 11 July during the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development focusing on menstrual hygiene and its repercussions for the 2030 Agenda. The event included speakers from Simavi, the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia and Kenya Water for Health.

In addition to the evident moral dimension of the issue, the event also highlighted the crosscutting nature of menstrual health and its importance in achieving the Global Goals as it impacts health and sanitation, education, gender equality, and responsible consumption. 

Panelists discussed the need to expel deep-rooted cultural taboos surrounding menstruation as well as resource distribution paired with education. Education has been instrumental in providing schoolgirls with the knowledge and resources to safely manage their menstrual health by spreading MHM awareness in places like Bangladesh and Kenya. However, it remains vital to keep in mind the young girls who are not fortunate enough to attend school and may not have access to this information.

The speakers also addressed the need to expand from simply providing pads to allowing young girls to have more options, so that they may decide how they personally would like to manage their menstrual health. Not only does this provide girls with more power over their menstrual health, but also provides more eco-friendly and economical alternatives to simple one-use pads.

Finally, menstruation is not simply a hygiene issue. It is deeply interlinked with Global Goals 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 12. Menstrual health should never impede upon a girl’s education, safety, or well-being, and if meaningful advancement is to be made on the 2030 Agenda then menstrual health must be a part of it.

More information on the event can be found here: https://www.wsscc.org/2018/07/12/hlpf-2018-putting-menstrual-health-on-the-2030-agenda/