THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE IS STIGMATISED EVERYWHERE
For the majority of women, menstruation is a natural and healthy aspect of life. Around 26% of people worldwide — or over half the female population — are of reproductive age. Most women menstruate for two to seven days on average each month. Despite how commonplace menstruation is, it is nevertheless stigmatised everywhere in the world.
Lack of awareness about menstruation can lead to prejudice, damaging stereotypes, and the exclusion of girls from experiences and activities that are frequently a part of infancy. Due to stigma, taboos, and beliefs, teenage girls and boys are prevented from learning about menstruation and developing healthy practises.
“At UNICEF, we envision a world where every girl can learn, play, and safeguard her own health without experiencing stress, shame, or unnecessary barriers to information or supplies during menstruation,” said Sanjay Wijesekera UNICEF Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. “Meeting the hygiene needs of all adolescent girls is a fundamental issue of human rights, dignity, and public health.”
NINE IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT MENSTRUATION
- Throughout her lifespan, a woman menstruates on average every 7 years.
- One can welcome the first period with joy, fear, or concern. This is a crucial stage in a girl’s development into a woman, a period when they would benefit from the support of their loved ones.
- Many young women do not fully and accurately comprehend the menstrual cycle as a natural biological occurrence. Before the start of their first period, boys and girls should be educated about menstruation. This will boost their self-esteem, foster social cohesion, and promote healthy practises. Both at home and at school, this information should be conveyed.
- Infections of the reproductive and urinary tract have been related to poor menstrual hygiene, which can be harmful to physical health. There are few economical menstruation product options for many girls and women. Urogenital illnesses might be decreased by granting access to private restrooms with running water and affordable, safer menstrual supplies.
- Girls and women with disabilities and special needs suffer significant difficulties managing their periods and are disproportionately impacted by a lack of access to restrooms with running water and period management supplies.
- Many women and girls lack access to menstrual management supplies, particularly during emergencies like natural disasters and armed conflicts. In times of need, UNICEF gives women and girls dignity kits, which contain sanitary products, a torch and a whistle for personal safety when using the bathroom.
- Only 27% of individuals in least developed nations have access to a home handwashing station with water and soap, and 2.3 billion people around the world lack basic sanitation facilities. Women and adolescent girls who lack these essential facilities at home face a significant issue managing periods at home.
- For girls and female instructors to manage their periods, adequate[vi] drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene are required in around half of the schools in low-income nations. Girls’ educational experiences might be impacted by inadequate facilities, which may cause them to skip class while they are on their period. Teenage girls should have access to running water, secure restrooms, and hygienic facilities at all schools.
- In an effort to dispel stigmas, promote good hygiene practises, and conduct research on menstruation, UNICEF collaborates with local governments, schools, and communities. Additionally, UNICEF provides schools in some of the most underdeveloped areas with the necessary equipment and supplies, such as toilets, soap, and water.