Here at RubyCup, we are celebrating Menstrual Health Month! In this blog, we will explore what Menstrual Health Month is, why we celebrate it, and the steps we can take to ensure everyone has access to education and the necessary products needed.
What is Menstrual Health Month?
Menstrual Health Month is a global initiative to promote menstrual health and hygiene, destigmatise menstruation, and achieve menstrual equity. The initiative was launched by the non-profit organisation WASH United in 2014. Since then, it has gained worldwide momentum and support from individuals, organisations, and governments.
Why do we celebrate menstrual health month?
Menstruation is a natural biological process, yet it is often shrouded in societal taboo and stigma. Menstruating individuals face discrimination, lack of access to menstrual products, and limited education about menstrual health and hygiene. Menstrual Health Month aims to break down these barriers and ensure that menstruating individuals have access to the resources they need to manage their periods safely and with dignity. By promoting menstrual health education, assisting with product access, supporting safe, hygienic spaces, and promoting cultural change, we can work towards a world where menstruating individuals feel supported and thrive.
1. Promoting menstrual health education
According to UNESCO, only 20% of girls in low-income countries have basic knowledge about menstruation before they start their periods (UNESCO, 2014). Education is a crucial component of menstrual health. Unfortunately, many people worldwide lack access to comprehensive menstrual health education. This can perpetuate the stigma and shame surrounding menstruation. By promoting menstrual health education, we can empower individuals with knowledge and promote positive attitudes towards menstruation.
2. Ensure access to period products
Access to menstrual products is essential for menstrual health and hygiene, but many people worldwide lack access to essential menstrual products. This can have a significant impact on their health and well-being. To address this issue, governments and NGOs must work together to ensure that menstrual products are widely available and affordable. In 2021 WaterAid reported that only 36% of menstruating individuals in India regularly use sanitary pads, and only 15% of rural menstruating individuals had access to menstrual products.
3. Create safe and hygienic spaces
UNICEF reports that one in three schools lacks basic sanitation, including proper menstrual hygiene facilities (UNICEF, 2021). In reality, many schools and workplaces do not have adequate facilities, such as toilets or changing rooms, for menstruating individuals to manage their periods safely and with dignity. The consequences of this neglect can be far-reaching, causing shame, embarrassment, and even missed school or work days. This issue must be addressed as we work towards providing equal access to hygiene facilities for all.
4. Address cultural and social taboos surrounding periods
Deep-rooted cultural and social taboos fuel the stigma and shame surrounding menstruation. To overcome these barriers, it's vital to have open and honest conversations about menstruation while also challenging cultural norms and attitudes. Plan International reports that 28% of girls in Ethiopia view menstruation as a disease, while 30% of girls in South Asia consider menstruation as dirty. These beliefs contribute to the taboo surrounding menstruation and can negatively impact mental and physical well-being. Educating and empowering individuals to dismantle these negative beliefs and perceptions about menstruation is essential.
Menstrual Health Month is a crucial initiative that aims to promote menstrual health and hygiene, break down barriers, rid society of stigma, and ensure everyone has the resources to manage their periods safely and with dignity. We can work towards living in a world where menstruating individuals can thrive by promoting education, access to products, safe and hygienic spaces, and cultural change. Help us to support communities around the world, shop RubyCup products here.