On Tuesday 28 May it’s Menstrual Hygiene Day. This year’s theme: It’s Time For Action! Because although the subject ‘menstruation’ is high on the agenda everywhere in the world, there’s still room for improvement.
Awareness for menstrual management, is that still necessary in 2019?
Healthy menstrual management. There’s no need to organise a special awareness day for this in 2019, is there? After all, it’s nothing more than using a product that’s suitable for your flow and washing your hands before and after changing it. Not rocket science. Or is it? Because not everywhere in the world it’s that easy.
Still today, almost 40% of the world’s population don’t have access to basic sanitation facilities. Read: no clean toilets, no running water and definitely no supermarket aisles filled with tampons, sanitary pads and cups to choose from. There’s also a lack of proper education. The result? Menstruating girls and women use leaves and old rags or stay at home because they’re afraid of leakage stains.
Being able to hygienically manage your menstruation isn’t only important to prevent illness or social isolation. It’s also a necessary requirement for emancipation and women’s rights. If you can manage your menstruation safely and with dignity, it means you don’t have to miss out on education or work when you’re on your period and therefore won’t fall behind at school or on the job market.
Since 2014, the subject is worldwide on the agenda
Menstrual Hygiene Day, a Wash United initiative, was first celebrated in 2014. In the following years it has grown tremendously. From the 127 MHDay events that were held in 2015, it has more than doubled to 350 events in 54 countries in 2017. Currently, the subject is top on the agenda everywhere in the world.
Although the focus was actually on menstrual hygiene management in developing countries such as Kenya, Nepal and Bangladesh, the west turned out to be a developing area as well. With poor knowledge of the biological side of things – no, you don’t pee through your vagina – and period poverty. Especially in parts of the UK and the USA, girls miss school when they’re on their period. The reason? Their parents can’t afford sanitary pads or tampons.
After protests against the luxury tax on sanitary products, many countries, such as Canada, India, Tanzania, Australia, Spain, Belgium, South Africa and various American states (Nevada, Ohio, Florida), have abolished this so-called tampon tax. Also, in 2018 Scotland became the first country in the world to offer free sanitary products in schools and universities against period poverty.
MHDay 2019: time for action!
Even though the increasing media attention has led to menstruation becoming less of a taboo in the west, the subject is still surrounded by discomfort and shame. Unfortunately, period pride hasn’t yet become the norm. With other words: there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
This year, MHDay’s theme is: It’s time for action! Because if you really want to change something, you have to take action. Especially when it comes to education, but also with regards to legislation. Some examples: when will there be a mandatory information leaflet with list of ingredients for tampons? Why is menstrual education in schools still sponsored by companies and manufacturers? And why are there still countries with a high tax on sanitary products?
Click here for all the MHDay 2019 events. Want to support this initiative? Participate in events that are happening in your neighbourhood, talk about it on social media and use the hashtags #ItsTimeForAction and #MHDAY2019. Want to know more? Check out menstrualhygieneday.org/