Water Currents: Celebrating Menstrual Hygiene Day

Water Currents is produced biweekly by USAID’s E3 Water Office. Each issue contains recent news and articles on water sector issues, partner and donor updates, latest sector research, and a special focus on one topic. Please provide your feedback and suggestions by contacting the waterteam@usaid.gov.

Celebrated worldwide on May 28 each year, Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD) is a global initiative that brings together organizations, individuals, and the media to raise awareness about menstrual hygiene management (MHM). This issue of Currents contains information on MHD events, select 2017 and 2016 publications and videos on the topic, links to relevant websites, and news articles. (Photo Credit: USAID/WASHplus)


Water Currents - In Focus


Menstrual Hygiene Day, May 28, 2017WASH United, 2017. The theme for 2017’s advocacy event is “Education about Menstruation Changes Everything.” MHD raises awareness of the challenges women and girls worldwide face due to their menstruation and highlights solutions that address these challenges. The MHD website features campaign materials, a list of events, and fact sheets and other resources.

Menstrual Hygiene Management in Emergencies: Global Guidelines and Lessons Learned from the PhilippinesUNESCO, May 2017. A recording of this webinar, held May 17, will soon be available on the Schools & Health website. Marni Sommer discussed the soon-to-be published Menstrual Hygiene Management in Emergencies toolkit developed by Columbia University and the International Rescue Committee in partnership with the global humanitarian response community. Another presentation described the MHM response in the Philippines to Typhoon Haiyan.

Publications and Videos

Menstrual Hygiene Management Policy BriefSHARE, January 2017. This policy brief summarizes previous research on MHM, defines knowledge gaps that still exist, and sets out clear recommendations for improving policy and programs globally.

Menstrual Hygiene Management: The Experience of Nomadic and Sedentary Populations in NigerWSSCC, March 2017. This study examines and analyzes behaviors and practices for the management of menstrual hygiene and their impact on the living conditions of sedentary and nomadic women and girls in Niger.

Examining the Safety of Menstrual Cups among Rural Primary School Girls in Western Kenya: Observational Studies Nested in a Randomised Controlled Feasibility StudyBMJ Open, May 2017. This study compared the safety of menstrual cups to sanitary pads used by schoolgirls in a community in western Kenya. No evidence emerged to indicate menstrual cups are hazardous among rural Kenyan schoolgirls, but large-scale trials and post-marketing surveillance should continue to evaluate cup safety.

A Time for Global Action: Addressing Girls’ Menstrual Hygiene Management Needs in SchoolsPLoS Medicine, February 2017. The absence of guidance, facilities, and materials make it challenging for schoolgirls to manage their menstruation in low- and middle-income countries. The authors of this paper discuss five key priorities to guide global, national, and local action.

Mapping the Knowledge and Understanding of Menarche, Menstrual Hygiene and Menstrual Health among Adolescent Girls in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.Reproductive Health, March 2017. Adolescent girls in low- and middle-income countries are often uninformed and unprepared for menarche. Information is primarily obtained from mothers and other female family members who are not necessarily well equipped to fill gaps in girls’ knowledge. Exclusion and shame lead to misconceptions and unhygienic practices during menstruation. Rather than seek medical consultation, girls tend to miss school, self-medicate, and refrain from social interaction.

Menstrual Hygiene Management among Adolescent Schoolgirls in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Research PrioritiesGlobal Health Action, December 2016. Studies have yet to confirm if inadequate information and facilities for MHM significantly affect quantifiable school and health outcomes influencing girls’ life chances. A current lack of standardized methods, tools, and research funding is hampering progress and must be addressed.

Menstrual Cups and Sanitary Pads to Reduce School Attrition, and Sexually Transmitted and Reproductive Tract Infections: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Feasibility Study in Rural Western KenyaBMJ Open, November 2016. Provision of menstrual cups and sanitary pads for more than one school year was associated with a lower risk of sexually transmitted infections, and cups with a lower bacterial vaginosis risk, but no association could be made between their provision and the school dropout rate.

Improving Menstrual Hygiene Management in EmergenciesIFRC’s MHM Kit.Humanitarian Innovation Fund; ALNAP, February 2016. This case study explores International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ innovation process in developing and testing ways to more effectively and appropriately deal with the menstrual hygiene needs of women and girls in emergencies.

Menstrual Hygiene Management BriefsPMA2020, 2016. The briefs are a one-page snapshot of select MHM indicators from Kenya, Ghana, Indonesia, and other countries. PMA2020 looks at how menstrual hygiene is managed across age groups and across wealth categories; the main environments where MHM is practiced; and the safety, privacy, and cleanliness of these environments, among other metrics.

What Can Existing Data on Water and Sanitation Tell Us about Menstrual Hygiene Management? Waterlines, July 2016. Globally around half a billion women defecate in the open and lack privacy for MHM. Data on handwashing suggest that a lack of cleansing materials is a particular challenge for MHM. In six of 10 study countries with data, over three-quarters of women lacked handwashing facilities with water and soap. Further research is needed to gain greater understanding of the principal WASH-related challenges and barriers faced by women.

What Is the Scope for Addressing Menstrual Hygiene Management in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies? A Global ReviewWaterlines, July 2016. This global review assessed the landscape of MHM practice, policy, and research within the field of humanitarian response. The authors state that improved evidence is needed on effective MHM approaches, the development of MHM-specific indicators, and the documentation of practical learning.

Breaking the Silence on Menstruation: WaterAid Nigeria's OverviewWaterAid, May 2016. This video discusses a study on MHM in Nigeria to explore and understand existing MHM practices. The study revealed deeply rooted attitudes and myths surrounding menstruation that result in social exclusion and restrictions on girls and women during their menstruation.

Menstrual Hygiene MattersWaterAid, 2012. This resource includes nine modules and toolkits that cover key aspects of menstrual hygiene in different settings, including communities, schools, and emergencies. 

Water Currents - In the News

Indian Innovator Wants to Make Sanitary Pads More AffordablePBS News Hour, April 2017. One man has taken on the cultural taboo of menstruation to become known as India’s pad man. This broadcast features Arunachalam Murugananthan who has made it his life’s work to perfect an affordable sanitary pad for women in the developing world.

Combining Cold Facts and a Warm Heart to Empower African WomenThe Story Exchange, May 2017. Filipa Carreira of Mozambique founded the nonprofit project Wamina, which supplies local women with reusable menstrual pads that keep them healthy and give them independence.

Menstrual Hygiene Project Keeps Girls in SchoolIPS News, May 2017. A project to distribute sanitary napkins to girls in one district of Bangladesh has had a positive impact on school dropout rates, and experts say this initiative should be replicated in other parts of the country.

The Politics of Sanitary Waste: #ThePadEffectFeminism in India, May 2017. The #ThePadEffect is a campaign to advocate for sustainable menstruation and prevent tons of sanitary waste. The article states that sanitary napkins can take 500-800 years to decompose.

Spot On: Improving Menstrual Health and Hygiene in IndiaUSAIDKiawah Trust, January 2016. This report is a call to action on the state of menstrual health and hygiene in India that emphasizes the importance of breaking taboos, incorporating MHM into the school environment, and improving information offered on the subject in rural health settings.

No, Menstruation Is Not Just a Woman’s ConcernYouth Ki Awaaz, May 2017. This story offers five suggestions for raising awareness about menstrual hygiene, particularly male awareness, and starting a conversation on how sanitary pads can be made more affordable.

Menstrual Cups to Be Authorized for Sale in KoreaThe Star, May 2017. Government officials recently approved the sale of silicone hygiene menstrual cups in South Korea. Menstrual cups have been receiving attention after the story of a low-income teenager using a shoe insole instead of pads was published.

Labour Day 2017: Working Without WASHWSSCC, May 2017. This article describes how poor access to WASH facilities impacts women in the workplace and their ability to adequately manage their menstruation safely and with dignity. Recommendations include the provision of services and infrastructure, such as clean and equipped spaces where they can change and wash and dispose of sanitary materials.

If you would like to feature your organization's materials or suggest other content for upcoming issues of Water Currents, please send them to Dan Campbell, Knowledge Creation/WASH Specialist, at dcampbell@waterckm.com.


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