#HappyFlow Monday: What efforts are being done in your communities to advance menstrual hygiene rights?

This #HappyFlow Monday, we asked network members what efforts are being done in their respective communities to advance menstrual hygiene rights.

Chifundo Chidumu Gondwe – Malawi

Menstrual hygiene still remains a challenge in my community. Most rural women and girls still don’t have access to safe materials to use while menstruating because prices for these remain high which put their right to health at risk.

Through the program I run at Centre for Youth and Development called #demystifyingperiods we have received shipments of both reusable and disposable sanitary wear, soap and towels among other personal hygiene materials, and sewing machines which we will give to women and girls clubs we have formed in the community to be making more sanitary wear to make it more accessible to everyone who needs it.

In this sense we are improving Menstrual hygiene rights like the right to health and healthy environment, education and work.

Assa Banda – Zambia

In Zambia, Women and girls often find it hard to manage menstrual periods without sanitary supplies and access to facilities that necessitate menstrual hygiene. The strife is even more intense in certain areas and marginalized groups of incarcerated women and girls.

Women in correctional facilities face a high health risk particularly because they are forced to improvise menstrual hygiene supplies using toilet paper, pieces of cloth and notebook paper to wipe themselves. Correctional facilities in Zambia are substantially dependent on well-wishers to provide sanitary supplies for women and girls to aid in menstrual Hygiene.

This has prompted Smile foundation Zambia to work with other non-governmental organizations in a bid to ensure that sanitary towels are made as accessible as possible. We have donated sanitary supplies in the recent past to both incarcerated, and women and girls outside the correctional facilities.

On the 19th of October 2019, we as Smile Zambia intend to join hands with Sustain Zambia and visit Lusaka central female prison where we hope to donate sanitary supplies and provide basic education on how our women and girls can take care of themselves to ensure menstrual hygiene.

Lack of sanitary supplies in correctional facilities and outside causes women and girls to experience a heightened sense of humiliation and shame. We believe that it is the right of every girl child to have easy access to menstrual supplies and facilities.

Periods have long been associated with silence and shame, we pledge to fight unceasingly to whiteness a day when the government through the Ministry of Health will respond to our concerns and ensure that sanitary supplies are provided freely for women and girls in the country across all geographical locations and population segments.

This will make a tremendous difference in the lives of every woman and girl who can’t afford menstrual supplies and perhaps bring about a paradigm shift in which the beautiful menstrual process is accepted more.

It is our duty to combat the stigma and change the narrative which places women within the orbit of domesticity.

Alice Mashinge – Zimbabwe

Access to good spacious latrines at homes and institutions is a necessity and a right for girls and women during mensuration.

In an effort to improve access to good latrines in my district, schools are now required to construct girl friendly latrines. These are different from the ordinary toilets they have more space for bathing and dressing, water points inside or a tapped bucket, dressing table and a mirror.

Improving menstrual hygiene friendly institutions is another way of keeping girls in school during their periods.

All these latrines have another toilet for people living with disabilities, built with a ramp and a bathing chair inside.

Good infrastructure is a right during my period!

Aobakwe Sello – Botswana

Sanitary napkins are a necessity to every girls life, as matter of urgency the Umbrella for Democratic change has made sure that there is provision of free sanitary wear to all girls to restore the girl child’s dignity.

#happyflow

#equalitydignityperiod

#girlchild

Desiderata Nkhoma – Malawi

Menstrual hygiene is one of the crucial topics that needs a lot of attention as far as keeping girls in school is concerned.

In the past, most girls in the rural areas would skip school during their menstrual cycles, even though they wanted to attend, because of lack of proper facilities to cater for their needs. But of late, several initiatives are being made by government and different NGOs in Malawi to improve the lives of girls through building changing rooms.

These allow most girls to still freely attend school and freely change where needed and attend school comfortably. This has also led to an increase in school attendance for girls.

I remember visiting one of the newly constructed changing rooms built for the girls at a school in Rumphi in the northern part of Malawi – the teacher was very overwhelmed to share how much of a difference it makes for the girls at the school.