Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) is a global advocacy platform that brings together the voices and actions of non-profits, government agencies, individuals, the private sector and the media to promote good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) for all women and girls.
Poor menstrual hygiene caused by a lack of education on the issue, persisting taboos and stigma, limited access to hygienic menstrual products and poor sanitation infrastructure undermines the educational opportunities, health and overall social status of women and girls around the world. As a result, millions of women and girls are kept from reaching their full potential.
The Fit for School program supports Ministries of Education to address these major areas in line with SDG indicator 4.a.1 that requires schools to provide adequate WASH facilities for all students. Sanitation and hygiene are key focuses of the Fit for School approach. The work of the program on WASH in Schools directly contributes to improving school environments for better MHM.
The FIT program works closely with the MoEs in its partner countries in establishing the Three Star Approach for WASH in Schools as the central framework for monitoring WinS and guiding schools in incrementally improving their WinS situation, including aspects of MHM. Improved WASH is a prerequisite that enables girls to manage their menstrual hygiene in the school context. The Three Star Approach provides schools with specific guidance to introduce simple aspects of MHM that schools can do on their own. For example, schools are guided to make trash bins with covers available inside toilet cubicles for disposal of sanitary pads and to make emergency sanitary pads available. For school heads and teachers, menstrual hygiene management can be an abstract and unfamiliar topic. The guidance provided within the TSA enables schools to begin to implement MHM – many for the first time – without extensive orientation or training.
One of the most crucial aspects of menstrual hygiene management is the availability of gender-segregated, clean, usable sanitation facilities. Without toilets that are functional and private, girls cannot manage their menstruation with dignity. Having water and soap available for washing is also needed. Supporting systems for schools to conduct daily cleaning of facilities and regular maintenance is an important contribution to ensure toilets are “MHM friendly” or “female friendly”. The FIT approach places emphasis on making small improvements to existing toilets – for example, adding locks to doors, hooks for hanging clothes, and improving lighting. In this way, the most important infrastructure aspects for MHM can be improved on a large scale with given resources. By promoting hygiene habits and ensuring the needed materials are available in schools for handwashing, Fit for School directly improves the ability of girls to manage menstruation in schools.
There are many existing educational materials developed by other MHM advocates, providing information to children on MHM. Rather than developing additional materials, Fit for School focuses on supporting the further distribution of these existing materials that have already been approved by government partners.
Together, let´s engage decision-makers on all levels and raise awareness to increase the political priority for MHM and create a world in which every woman and girl is empowered to manage her menstruation safely!