Putting the men into menstruation

Words Thabisani Ncube

Menstrual hygiene challenges are rooted in gender inequality as such the role of men and boys in community menstrual hygiene health rights and management needs to be emphasized.

One of the underlying reasons why menstrual hygiene has been neglected is gender inequality. Unequal power relations between men and women results in women and girls’voices not being heard in decision making within households, communities and development programmes. This has been exacerbated by cultural taboos, stigma and shame around menstruation including the prevalent belief that menstrual blood and menstruating women themselves are impure (WaterAid; 2009).

Men and boys can support women and girls to manage menstruation effectively across different social domains including household, community, schools and work.

Men and boys influence women and girls experiences of menstrual health management through many roles including as husbands, fathers, brothers, peers, community leaders, employees, policymakers, development and humanitarian practitioners.