According to Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey, adequate management of menstrual hygiene is taken for granted in affluent countries; however, inadequate menstrual hygiene is a major problem for girls and women in resource poor countries, adversely affects the health and development of adolescent girls.
Young girls often grow up with limited knowledge of menstruation because their mothers and other women shy away from discussing the issue with them (UKAID). Some girls believe that menstruation is a disease (UKAID). According to UNICEF MHM, only 13% of the girls are aware of menstruation before their first period. 56% of the girls in and out of school did not receive any information about menstruation. 87% of the women and girls are completely unaware about menstruation and do not have any knowledge about the purpose of menstruation as a biological process. For 23% of the girls in rural areas of poor countries, having their period is one of the reasons to quit school, with irreversible effects for their personal development, economical status and eventually their health.
52% of the female population is of reproductive age and most of them are menstruating every month. The majority of them have no access to clean and safe sanitary products. Lack of facilities and appropriate sanitary products can push menstruating girls out of school. High costs and unavailability of sanitary pads is the prime reason for women and girls not to use sanitary pads (WaterAid). Poor menstrual hygiene not only affects physical health, but also social and mental wellbeing, thus is a violation of the human right to health (menstrualhygienday.org). Shops in own villages or the environment often do not have sanitary pads for sale, because there is no demand for it, 41% of adolescents hide their cloth in the room, 22% in the roof and 11% share the cloth with others (UNICEF MHM).
To break the taboos surrounding menstruation, RVCP through the Gender empowerment (Pyramid) program in partnership with Kasha company thought of impacting young women in Huye district of Rwanda through raising awareness on the biological basis of menstruation and financial support by giving safe menstrual sanitary pads to them as we celebrate the Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Day 2018 under the theme: “empowering women and girls through good menstrual hygiene”
RVCP volunteers heading to the field to raise awareness about menstruation thus breaking the bloody taboo.
Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Day
Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Day was created by a German-based organization NGO WASH United as recently as 2014. The day was created to normalize the action of menstruation and the importance of access to hygiene during this time.
Interestingly, the reason that May 28th was chosen is that May is the 5th month of the year-most women average to having their period for 5 days, and their cycle tends to be at 28 days. So in a way, 28th of May is especially symbolic.
Today ensures that awareness is increased regarding the access to menstrual hygiene that women have across the world. It is a basic human right that women worldwide are given the right materials to collect blood during this time and this material should be able to be changed in total privacy. Menstruation is a biological fact and women should never feel ashamed of it.
Menstrual Hygiene Awareness day 2018-Rwanda
The Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Day 2018 as for theme “empowering women and girls through good menstrual hygiene” was a very successful day for RVCP as we empowered over 70 girls studying in Ecole Secondaire Butare by raising their awareness about menstruation, its purpose and ways of maintaining hygiene during periods. We had a trainer who moderated the interactive session with the students. Students began by having some energizers on circle to refresh their minds and afterwards they were divided into smaller teams for discussion with 2 facilitators per team. Each team had to discuss on their knowledge and experience about menstruation, signs and symptoms before menses and hygiene required in periods. After discussions, each group represented by a student got time for presenting what they discussed for assistance and more clarification. Finally, after feedback and more information regarding menstruation, signs preceding menses, menstrual cycle and menstrual hygiene, RVCP and Kasha gave free and safe menstrual hygiene pads to over 70 girls studying in the host school, E.S Butare.
According to the feedbacks from students, it was more beneficial than how we imagined. The majority of them didn’t knew about menstruation until their first menses where many of them consulted their friends and neighbors because they were afraid to tell their parents/guardians. Some of them believed that menstruation was a disease and they felt ashamed of it however due to the discussion we had, every student became aware that menstruation is a normal biological process and one of signs of a healthy woman. “We are very grateful for Gender empowerment (Pyramid) program of RVCP and Kasha! We had a problem of poor hygiene for some girls during menses and a big number of those who missed their classes during periods but we hope that it will never happen again”- Discipline master, E.S Butare.
Malyse, Manager Social impact and Healthcare at Kasha company reported that their mission is empowering women and girls through health and hygiene by selling safe menstrual hygiene pads, condoms, lotions, soaps and creams among others. “Today, we joined hands with Pyramid program of RVCP for helping young women to access menstrual hygiene and to achieve their full potential”-She said. Prior to the official celebration of Menstrual hygiene awareness day at E.S Butare on May 28, 2018, we conducted online campaign for 1 week which started May 20-27, 2018. In this online campaign, many people received messages about menstruation and menstrual hygiene via posters and common online social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram which hopefully were impactful. RVCP through Gender empowerment (Pyramid) program made it a custom to celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Day annually to reach more school and more women so as to build confidence and influence in women. No more limits, all women deserve rights to hygiene and privacy.
MHAD2018-Event in photos
Girls in E.S Butare coming down to discuss about Menstrual hygiene.
RVCP volunteers and Kasha team introducing themselves for students
Students with RVCP volunteers and Kasha team on same circle getting energizers to refresh their minds before interactive session about menstrual hygiene.
Students were divided into small teams. Each team had to discuss on their knowledge and experience about menstruation, signs and symptoms before menses and hygiene required in periods.
One team said that they consulted friend and neighbors on their first periods
Finally, after discussions, RVCP and Kasha gave safe menstrual hygiene pads to over 70 girls studying in the host school, E.S Butare.