Today, May 28th, is the first ever Menstrual Hygiene day. The date is no accident. The number 28 was chosen as that is the average length of a menstrual cycle and 5 is the average number of days a woman bleeds. (Just like a Female Empowerment Bracelet!)
The aim of this special day is raise awareness (and break the silence) about the importance of menstruation and the hygienic management of it.
The need for such a day is unfortunately all too great for a variety of reasons, including;
Menstrual hygiene is fundamental to realizing human rights. A basic human right is the right to dignity. Dignity however is difficult to maintain when one is forced into seclusion by being told they are "dirty" simply because they are menstruating (as happens in many parts of India and Africa), or when a girl is worried about leaking and causing embarrassment to herself and her family because she doesn't have access to adequate sanitary protection.
Menstrual hygiene is fundamental to ensuring health. Many girls in the developing world don't have access to traditional sanitary napkins so they use mud, leaves, dirty scraps of material...whatever they can find. This can potentially lead to infections and disease as can washing reusable products in unclean water.
Menstrual hygiene is fundamental to advancing education. When girls in the developing world don't have access to proper protection, they stay at home during their period. Many countries, including India, Ghana and Niger operate schools which don't have functioning toilets and so girls in such schools don't go during their periods for obvious reasons.
Menstrual hygiene is fundamental to changing attitudes. The male population should not be shielded from the truth of menstruation. It is a fact of human nature and we should do all we can to ensure boys and men receive accurate information and show respect for the women in their lives.
Menstrual hygiene is fundamental to protecting the environment. The western world seems to be a disposable world, with the majority of women using disposable products to manage their menstruation, giving little thought to the harmful effects on the environment. The average North American woman will use over 10,000 pads or tampons in her life. That's a small mountain of landfill for each one. (Contrary to popular belief and practise, tampons should not be flushed down the toilet as that causes untold damage with the sewage system as seen here.) With education and exposure to the alternatives, more women will hopefully opt to use reusable and environmentally friendly products such as the DivaCup or LunaPads.
Menstrual hygiene is fundamental to strengthening the economy. Not only do girls in the developing world miss school during menstruation, but female workers also miss work during that time. Inadequate facilities in the workplace and unsanitary menstrual materials are the main cause of this, with infections caused by improper care a mitigating factor.
The bottom line is
Menstrual hygiene is fundamental!
and so is Menstrual Hygiene Day.
Throughout the day we will be tweeting, posting to Instagram and Facebook.
Let's start the conversation about menstruation.
For more information on the importance of menstrual hygiene and management, please refer to some of the excellent articles and videos below.
Source material courtesy of menstrualhygieneday.org