Menstruation is a normal part of life and a natural month occurrence for the 1.8 billion girls and women of reproductive age. According to a 2015 report from UNICEF and the World Health Organization, at least 500 million females around the world do not have access to health and hygiene information or supplies. They are frequently embarrassed and ashamed and constantly concerned about leakages and stains on their clothing. Yet when 10% more girls go to school, their country’s GDP increases on average by 3%.
Women and girls miss out on education, work, and other opportunities when they do not have the ability to manage their menstruation with normalcy and dignity. There are also many health risks associated with mismanaging menstruation due to lack of appropriate supplies.
UNESCO estimates that 10% of girls in Sub-Saharan Africa miss up to 20 percent of the school year due to her menstrual cycle.
Additionally, men in developing countries are often just as unaware of the connection between menstruation and pregnancy, family planning, strength vs. violence, and their responsibility to support united communities.
In an effort to support men and women about menstruation, reproductive, health, safety, and leadership, we partner with Days For Girls and their program Men Who Know. Our staff is trained in the Days for Girls curriculum as Ambassadors of Women’s Health. Trainings are conducted year round and have helped thousands live healthier lives.
Out of approximately 5 million girls between the ages of 10 and 19 in Kenya, 2.6 million require support to obtain menstrual hygiene materials. "Approximately 300,000 of them, owing to cultural practices particularly in arid and semi-arid regions, would require both sanitary towels and underwear at an estimated cost of 2.6 billion Kenyan shillings.” (UNICEF)
In rural western Nepal, girls are sent to live in small, isolated sheds while menstruating — a custom that has led to dozens of deaths in recent years, The New York Times reports.
Damaging traditions persist in Bolivia where menstruating women are led to believe drinking, bathing in, or touching cold water will lead to cysts or even infertility. Girls must carry their used pads with them, often in school, as it is said that putting them in the trash can cause cancer. Yes, Bolivia’s menstrual care doctrine is brimming with misinformation, but luckily there are organizations such as UNGEI (United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative) who are producing valuable research on how girls experience menstruation in schools and at home, and providing comprehensive recommendations to tackle these issues. (intima)