Water Currents: Menstrual Hygiene Day 2018

This cover photo from the “Menstrual Hygiene Management in Schools: South Asia” study shows students in a school in Pakistan that had only two toilet blocks to serve 400 girls and 10 teachers. With support from WaterAid and UK aid, the school set up a hygiene club and is now a model in terms of its sanitation facilities. Read more about the study below. Photo credit: WaterAid/Sibtain Haider.

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.

Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day), May 28, is an annual global event to raise awareness about the challenges women and girls face due to menstruation and to highlight solutions that address these challenges. MH Day also provides a platform to advocate for making menstrual hygiene management (MHM) a part of local, national, and global policies, as well as programs, projects, and activities across global development sectors. MH Day is organized by WASH United, which has run the event since its inception in 2013. It is an alliance of 340 partners worldwide, including WaterAid, Save the Children, and USAID, to foster policy change, fight stigma, and educate girls about menstruation. Follow MH Day on Twitter using the hashtag #NoMoreLimits.

This issue of Water Currents features MH Day resources from 2018, including reports and journal articles from studies in Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, and other countries. The issue also includes recent blog posts and news articles from Africa, India, and Pakistan.


Water Currents - In Focus

Menstrual Hygiene Day Resources

Menstrual Hygiene Day 2018. WASH United created this site to promote MH Day and provide additional resources and information on MHM that can be accessed year-round.

Menstrual Hygiene Webinar Series - WASH United, Simavi, World Vision and GIZ are launching a webinar series on menstrual hygiene as an activity under the MH Alliance. The webinars will take place every Thursday starting on 31 May 2018.

The Menstrual Health Hub. This is a global organization that establishes strategic partnerships to promote collaborative, systemic impact around menstrual health worldwide.

Menstrual Hygiene Day 2018: Empowering Women and Girls Through Good Menstrual HygieneGlobalwaters.org, April 2018. This event post provides links to stories and resources on USAID's MHM-related work, which is an important part of USAID's WASH-related activities.

#NoMoreLimits! WSSCC Members Called to Act, Advocate on Upcoming Menstrual Hygiene DayWater Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), May 2018. WSSCC is asking members and partners to share their planned MH Day 2018 activities to feature on its website, along with a special social media package to help promote MH Day.


Menstrual Hygiene Management in Schools: South AsiaWaterAid, March 2018. These reports detail the status of MHM in schools in South Asia and identify progress and gaps in achieving sustainable and inclusive MHM services. They include a synthesis report, as well as country profiles on Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and others.

Reports on Menstrual Hygiene in Senegal, Niger and CameroonUN Women Africa, February 2018. WSSCC, in collaboration with UN Women, implemented a joint program on Gender, Hygiene, and Sanitation in Senegal, Niger, and Cameroon. Three case studies were published based on experiences from each country.

Keeping African Girls in School with Better Sanitary CareUniversity of CambridgeThe Impact Initiative, March 2018. Research from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London demonstrates that in rural Uganda, providing free sanitary products and lessons about puberty to girls may increase their attendance at school.

Journal Articles

Pilot Testing and Evaluation of a Toolkit for Menstrual Hygiene Management in Emergencies in Three Refugee Camps in Northwest TanzaniaJournal of International Humanitarian Action, May 2018. This paper describes the pilot testing of the MHM in Emergencies Toolkit in three camps hosting Burundian and Congolese refugees in northwest Tanzania. MHM in this context consists of access to supplies and information, private WASH facilities, and discrete disposal options. Key findings include the identification of content gaps in the draft toolkit and the mapping out of a training and capacity-building approach needed for integrating MHM into ongoing programming.

Improving Menstrual Hygiene Management in Emergency Contexts: Literature Review of Current PerspectivesInternational Journal of Women’s Health, April 2018. The objective of this review was to collate, summarize, and appraise existing literature on the current state of MHM in emergency contexts.

Menstrual Hygiene Management Among Women and Adolescent Girls in the Aftermath of the Earthquake in NepalBMC Women’s Health, March 2018. In the immediate aftermath of a massive earthquake in April 2015, immediate relief activities by humanitarian agencies failed to account for MHM needs. An improved understanding of MHM practices and the use of local resources, such as the reusable sanitary cloth, can help address MHM needs in post-disaster situations in Nepal.

Transgender-Inclusive Sanitation: Insights from South AsiaWaterlines, January 2018. This paper provides insights from initiatives to include transgender people in sanitation programming in South Asia. Three case studies of recent actions to make sanitation inclusive for transgender people in India and Nepal are presented, accompanied by reflections and recommendations to guide future practice.

The Relationship between Household Sanitation and Women’s Experience of Menstrual Hygiene: Findings from a Cross-Sectional Survey in Kaduna State, NigeriaInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, May 2018. Researchers in Nigeria investigated the relationship between household sanitation and women’s MHM practices. They found that household sanitation can influence women’s choices for MHM, yet existing indicators for sanitation improvement are not sensitive to menstrual needs.

Menstrual Health and School Absenteeism Among Adolescent Girls in Uganda (MENISCUS): A Feasibility StudyBMC Women's Health, January 2018. A study of a peri-urban Ugandan population found a strong correlation between menstruation and school attendance. To keep girls in school, future interventions must factor in both the psychosocial and physical aspects of menstruation.

Menstrual Hygiene, Management, and Waste Disposal: Practices and Challenges Faced by Girls/Women of Developing CountriesJournal of Environmental and Public Health, February 2018. Many rural Indian women are unaware of the environmental pollution and health hazards associated with the improper disposal of sanitary pads, according to the authors of this study. The researchers recommend the use of reusable sanitary products or natural sanitary products made from materials like banana and bamboo fibers and water hyacinths.

Accessibility of Low Cost Sanitary Napkin in Rural and Semi-Urban Community of BangladeshIslam Medical College Journal, January 2018. This study found that affordability is the main constraint to using pads for MHM, suggesting that future MHM interventions should be more inclusive by accounting for the sometimes prohibitive cost of sanitary napkins.

Blog Posts/Podcasts

How Did a Bollywood Film Affect Menstrual Hygiene in India? IRC, May 2018. This podcast includes discussions about the economic, social, health, and environmental aspects of MHM in India and “Pad Man,” the Bollywood film inspired by the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham.

What Makes a Period a Healthy Period? Plan International, April 2018. Take this online quiz to find out how periods impact your health in more ways than you might think (or have ever been taught).

Bloody Hell: The Challenges of Starting Your Period in a Refugee CampBloody Good Period, April 2018. Dr. Sarah Simons writes about the personal hygiene challenges that women must deal within refugee camps.

Mainstream Bollywood Movie Influencing Age-Old Taboos about Menstrual Health in IndiaEnd Poverty in South Asia, March 2018. This blog post discusses a Bollywood movie that tells the story of "Pad Man," a school drop-out and social entrepreneur from Tamil Nadu who invented a low-cost, sanitary pad-making machine.

Design for Girls, By Girls. PeriodUNICEF, March 2018. The School of Leadership—a national youth-led organization in Pakistan—launched the MHM Innovation Challenge in June 2017. This article highlights innovative solutions that were received in response to the challenge.

The Power of Involving Boys in Menstrual Hygiene ManagementWASH in Schools, January 2018. This article discusses the WASH and Learn program and its efforts to educate and involve boys and men in MHM.


Water Currents - In the News

Ground-Breaking Menstrual Health Symposium Will Be a First for the RegionUN Population Fund (UNFPA) East and Southern Africa, March 2018. UNFPA and its partners will hold the first-ever meeting on managing menstrual health for women and girls in the east and southern Africa regions at the MHM Symposium in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 28–29, 2018.

Kashmiri Women Promote Menstrual Hygiene. Times of India, April 2018. This video is about a self-help group in Kashmir that manufactures low-cost sanitary pads. Taking inspiration from the Bollywood film “Pad Man,” women in the Samba district are producing affordable pads and educating rural women about the importance of maintaining hygiene.

Akshay Kumar Lends Support to New Campaign on Menstrual HygieneHindustan Times, May 2018. Even months after the release of “Pad Man,” Bollywood star Akshay Kumar has continued his effort to spread awareness about menstrual hygiene.

Opinion: Menstrual Pads Can’t Fix PrejudiceNew York Times, March 2018. The author states that cultural stigma is the core problem surrounding menstruation. 

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.



Water Currents
Publication Date: 
22 May 2018
Produced By: 
USAID Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment (E3) Water Office

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