Menstrual Hygiene Management- Take Action For Equality
What is Menstrual Hygiene Management?
“Women and adolescent girls are using a clean menstrual management material to absorb or collect menstrual blood, which can be changed in privacy as often as necessary for the duration of a menstrual period, using soap and water for washing the body as required and having access to safe and convenient facilities to dispose of used menstrual management materials. They understand the basic facts linked to the menstrual cycle and how to manage it with dignity and without discomfort or fear”. - as defined by WHO/UNICEF.
Too Much Stigma
There is stigma associated with menstruation everywhere, especially MLIC (Middle to Lower Income Countries), getting in the way of progress toward equality for young women. Women are considered sick or disgusting when they are menstruating. Talking about periods is taboo, perpetuating the stigma at the same time as keeping women oppressed. As a result, many young women don't know about their bodies.
Combined with the price tag on menstrual products that only the rich can afford, many young women don't get to leave home, let alone go to school while they have their period. Simply because of a necessary function of the body, girls miss out on education and face more significant dangers due to missed school and having to drop out. At home, many girls are more open to abuse by family and their spouses.
Early pregnancy is common for girls in MLIC who don’t know about their bodies or menstrual health in relation to sexual health. Labor often leads to death from fistula or other complications. The death rate of infants born to child mothers is depressingly high at around one-half in Liberia. The average infant mortality rate there is ten percent.
Not Enough Menstrual Hygiene Resources
There aren't enough resources to put needed tools and programs in place to ensure that girls and women have access to the period products, water, soap, and hygiene girls so desperately need.
Though still on the sidelines of the public arena, the conversation about Menstrual Hygiene Management has been growing louder. With days like today, Menstrual Hygiene Day 2021, and the recognition of Menstrual Hygiene as a global problem, advocates and activists are moving forward to spread awareness about this tragic and avoidable roadblock for girls' education, health, and equality.
Along with voices growing louder, more action is happening. Unfortunately, it's still not enough. There isn't enough support for menstrual hygiene improvement actions. This is especially true in lower and middle-income countries, where businesses and governments severely underfund efforts.
Even when a young woman has the period products she needs, there may be a lack of water, privacy, or washing materials at home or school. But, when these standards are met at schools and emergency products made available, girls drop out of school less frequently or stay there a bit longer. Even an added year of school can add up to a 10% greater income later in life.
Without more investment from large entities, it is impossible to get needed supplies, workers, and researchers to develop cohesive WASH and Menstrual Health Management programs. The primary block to funding is a lack of measurable research on MHM and its effects. Since MHM is involved in education, health, and gender intersectionally, there hasn’t been specific research coordinated it investigate it.
Without millions in the bank you may feel like you can't do much, but this isn't the case.
Stella’s Girls works in the U.S. and in Liberia to combat period poverty and increase MHM. Our Red Flower Code is responsible for helping hundreds of women in Southern Delaware with distributions of pads, bras, and panties. Our Liberia Chapter has helped hundreds more young women make reusable pads that last up to a year. Each group of women helps teach the next group how to make them. Stella’s Girls brings the materials, courtesy of our donors.
Each Menstrual Hygiene Kit you are kind enough to give will provide a young woman with the materials she needs to make a year's worth of washable pads. Just $25 gives a girl a full year of peace.
My name is Jamie. I'm blessed to be the Creative Content Manager for Stella's Girls, Inc. where our mission is to empower young women to become leaders and social advocates in their communities.