Every May 28, organizations and individuals come together to celebrate World Menstrual Hygiene Day, and advocate for the importance of prioritizing menstrual health management in communities globally. Good menstrual health and hygiene is critical to achieve a range of UN Sustainable Development Goals including SDGs 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 12.
Poor menstrual hygiene can lead to deadly physical health risks as well as prevent young women from reaching their full potential when they miss out on opportunities essential to their personal and professional growth. According to UNICEF, young girls who are unable to stay in school are more likely to enter child marriages, experience early pregnancy or complications, face malnourishment, and suffer domestic violence. Period shame also can lead to negative mental health effects including anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Around the world, over 800 million girls and women menstruate but face systemic barriers to properly manage their menstrual hygiene like limited affordable menstrual materials, and lack of access to basic sanitation. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this issue, preventing girls from further accessing resources. Girl Up Clubs have been working closely with their communities to spread awareness and provide education and resources to support those who menstruate. Check out how some of our Clubs have been activating around the world:
In Latin America, Girl Up Clubs have collected menstrual hygiene items to distribute to underserved populations as well as provided education to promote good menstrual hygiene in schools. Most recently, Mexico approved a proposal to offer free menstrual products across the country in public spaces! Read more here.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Girl Up Brazil members were shocked to find out the COVID-19 essential item kits that were being distributed by the government and organizations did not include menstrual hygiene items. Club members organized menstrual hygiene product drives to collect donations and provide the items to community members in need. Recently, a group of Club members advocated for the approval of legislation reducing taxes on menstrual hygiene products in Rio de Janeiro. The bill was approved in June 2020! Since the first bill, Club members across the country are working on 11 more to fight for menstrual dignity and access to resources. Read the full report on menstrual dignity and advocacy in Brazil.
Girl Up India has taken a step towards menstrual equity and hygiene by organizing Project Adhikaar, a pan-India fundraiser and awareness campaign. Under the project, more than 180 Girl Up members will activate and distribute sustainable menstrual pads in underserved communities across 10 Indian cities. In just 15 days, Girl Up Clubs have already raised 114,608 rupees. This will allow them to support over 606 menstruators for 2 years! Read more here.
As head of human rights at WASH United, Hannah Neumeyer said once, “women and girls have human rights, and they have periods. One should not defeat the other.” We are proud of the work of our Girl Up Clubs around the world who are breaking menstruation stigma, changing national policy, and transforming the lives of menstruators in their communities.