WHY DO WE CELEBRATE MENSTRUAL HYGIENE DAY?
Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated to de-stigmatise menstruation, create necessary dialogues around it and raise awareness about the challenges women and girls face when menstruating.
While every woman in the world experiences menstruation, it is quite worrisome that it remains a taboo topic in many societies with many negative discourses built around it. Menstruation is not a taboo, nor is it shameful. It is a necessary and normal biological function that occurs in every female body.
On May 28th every year, Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated to combat these stigmas and advocate for a society that sees menstruation as a natural occurrence. The day is also used to shed more light on the importance of better hygiene management and the need to create safe spaces for adolescent girls and women who menstruate, one devoid of shame and stigmatisation.
ACTION AND INVESTMENT IN MENSTRUAL HYGIENE AND HEALTH
Despite it being established that menstruation is a natural phenomenon, many women and adolescent girls still suffer from the actions and behaviour of the society towards it. These actions affect them both mentally, physically and also impact their social interactions.
Some of these actions stem from the lack of proper information. Prior to the beginning of their menstrual journey, so many girls are not imbued with comprehensive information on how to handle their hygiene, nutrition or what to do when they experience menstrual pains.
There is a huge deficiency of information about menstrual health of women and girls, and often more than those who live in urban areas, adolescent girls living with disabilities or in rural communities bear more significant brunt of this information gap, as they are often neglected and vulnerable.
Another action is the lack of safe spaces for women and girls who menstruate. Several schools lack basic clean spaces, water and are not committed to making essential sanitary items available for adolescent girls who menstruate. During this period, some girls are left with no choice but to stay at home because they cannot afford sanitary materials.
Civil Societies and some private organisations continue to create more awareness about menstrual hygiene and make moves to give more women, and adolescent girls access to basic menstrual hygiene items, but this is hardly enough.
This year’s theme, “Action and Investment towards Menstrual Hygiene,” is a solid call to the government to take the concerns of women on Menstrual Hygiene as the concerns of the nation.
We call on government at all tiers to lend their voices to this charge, listen to women and girls, formulate and implement policies that create easy and affordable access to basic menstrual hygiene items for women and adolescent girls.
We equally call on communities, private organisations and brands to not just follow the yearly conversations around Menstrual Hygiene but also do well by contributing to initiatives of civil society organisations to make a better and more significant impact in this regard.
Safe menstrual hygiene contributes to the health and well-being of adolescent girls, women and, in extension, to the strength and overall health of our society. We can cover more substantial strides if we all come together and contribute to the conversation.
Ayodeji Amos OLADIMEJI
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