Happy Flow Monday: challenges and solutions to advancing Menstrual Hygiene Rights

Today is Happy Flow Monday!

We asked SRAN members about what continues to be the major challenge in their community in terms of advancement of menstrual hygiene rights, and what recommendations they would give in line with the problem to policymakers.

Mandi Piyasi – Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe cultural practice view discussing menstrual hugiene rights a taboo. Families cannot discuss such issues as they are uncomfortable and there has to be a specified person in the family who talk to girls about such issues. In religious sects like Muslim one has to abscond Church during her menstrual cycle hence it’s so difficult to raise awareness or discuss menstrual health rights as a natural process.

Policy makers have to start implementing gender  sensitive policies to include gender budgeting as this will cater for provision  free sanitary wear for school going girls. Gender sensitive budgeting at local government level will ensure effective water services to cater menstrual issues as girls would need more water during menstrual days.

#ExpectRespect #HappyFlow

#EqualityDignityPeriod

Rugare Shalom Zimunya – Malawi

I work in schools quite a lot and the challenge has  been stigma and silence around menstruation. The girls are so shy to talk about it and it’s even worse when they happen to spot a boy classmate close by. They are not used to talking about it, in some cases their own mothers cannot talk to them about it, only elderly female family members can. So this creates a culture of secrecy and breeds the idea that no one should be heard talking about menstruation in any public space. This is a problem because it makes it a challenge for the girls to open up about their experiences and challenges. It also makes it difficult for them to reach out for help regarding information on menstruation.

To policy makers, and particularly education ministries, can we please have comprehensive sex education in schools that will address ALL issues pertaining to SRHR of young people and especially the girls.

Can menstrual health management be a key component of the CSE because it means if girls can’t talk about it, they won’t have sufficient knowledge on MHM.

Patricia Kajumba – Uganda

In the effort to advance for Menstrual Hygiene Rights, young girls and women in my community have continued to struggle with access to good WASH facilities and sanitary wear.

Policy makers should develop local legislation, policies and strategies supporting better WASH facilities, increased availability and accessibility to sanitary wear in rural areas.

Precious Shongwe – Eswatini

Women and girls still miss school or work because they can not manage their periods. Lack of access to a safe toilet with a clean water to manage their periods with dignity and privacy.Use of sanitary pads and washing of the genital area are essential practices but there is no place to change and dispose menstrual waste .Women and girls still have to pay for sanitary pads while condoms are for free.

Policy makers need to understand that menstruation should not be a barrier; women and girls should not miss out school or work because if they do this has a negative impact to exercise and enjoy their rights.

Sanitary pads tax must fall

Access to free sanitary pads to girls at school and, women working at the factories and women in the rural areas should be a must.

#ExpectRespect

#EqualityDignityPeriod

Magdaline Majuma – Kenya

Menstrual Hygiene Rights is still overly  considered as taboo issue and a  non-issue  in most spaces with other competing interests of basic access to other rights.

It’s also not understood  as a natural process it’s more of a girl/women issues in that girls are not able to ask for Pads from their Father’s,brother’s or uncle they can’t share the menstrual challenge freely the menstrual stigma is real here.

Our Country  just recently signed  the free access  to sanitary pads into law for all adolescent girls whose implementation is pathetic and overly politicized. I would  want them to create an enabling environment for all adolescent  girls  and women by first  banning  importation and manufacturing of low quality pads.

And in their distribution of Pads we want Quality Pads for our girls…The government provides 3 packets of Pads per year forgetting that Girls do have monthly menstrual period January to December .

#ExpectRespect #HappyFlow

#EqualityDignityPeriod

Afia Precious Simpande – Zambia

In Zambia several studies have been conducted to find out the  information known and ability to access  Menstrual hygiene and its  rights  and it has been found that most girls  reported learning about menstruation only at menarche and did not know the physiological basis of  menstruation. Many boys are also quite ignorant about matters of menstruation as it is seen as a taboo to discuss such matters according to culture. The studies also reported menstrual hygiene management related challenges, including: use of non-absorbent and uncomfortable menstrual cloth and inadequate provision of sanitary materials, water, hygiene and sanitation facilities (WASH) in schools. This lack of information about menstruation and cultural hindrances  and also inadequate  WASH facilities and sanitary material in the country have continued to be a major challenge in the advancement  of menstrual hygiene rights.

As a way to address these challenges, Policy makers must design more policies that evoke general education of menstruation both for the in and out of school children and their families. Policy makers should also set up adequate measures to ensure the provision of at least the basic WASH facilities  and affordable to free sanitary wear around the  country to ensure happy and free menstruation for all girls and women.

#HappyFlow

#ExpectRespect

#MenstruationMatters

Drucila Meireles – Mozambique

In my culture, you don’t talk about menstruation in public. Also girls don’t talk about it with their parents, not even the mother. This happened to me when I started. I tried to show my mother what I was on my pant and she sent me away saying I would provoke her backache( that’s what she believed in because that’s what her mom taught her too).

Now, almost 20 years later, I see that we are still in the same situation although there is a lot being done concerning SRHR rights. My daughter just started menstruating and I had already started preparing her 3 years back. She was not surprised and she came to me right away. I gave her all the support she needed. Yesterday she came to me and said ” it has come again,” then my partner came in and said “what”. My daughter was shy to say it to him but we insisted on the matter in a very friendly way. Now my partner was the one doing most of the explanation. He went on to tell her that she should be open with both of us and be free to talk to us about any issue.I wish all girls had the same opportunity of talking to their parents about SRHR.

To policymakers, I would be happy if they introduced comprehensive sexual education in schools. Free sanitary wear to vulnerable girls too.

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