Menstrual Hygiene Day is an annual global awareness day observed on May 28th to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management and to break the stigma surrounding menstruation. It was first initiated by the German-based nonprofit organization WASH United in 2013.On that day; WASH united used a 28-day social media campaign called May #MENSTRAVAGANZA to generate awareness about menstruation. Those involved with the social media campaign including wash advocates, Ruby Cup, Girls Globe were encouraged by the positive feedback received and they decided to create a global awareness day for menstruation. Many people around the world celebrated menstrual hygiene day for the first time on 28th May 2014 with movie exhibition, rallies, speeches and workshops.
The main purpose of Menstrual Hygiene Day is to promote awareness about menstruation and address the challenges and taboos associated with it. It aims to educate individuals, communities, and policymakers about the importance of proper menstrual hygiene practices, access to menstrual products, and the need for improved sanitation facilities. The main objectives include;
*Highlight the positive and innovative solutions being taken to address the challenges.
*Address the various challenges and hardships many girls and women face during their menstruation.
*To create an occasion for media work
*Engage in policy dialogue and actively advocate for the integration of menstrual hygiene management into global, national and local policies and programs.
*To catalyze a growing, global movement that recognizes and supports girls and women’s rights and build partnerships among those partners on local and national level.
Menstrual hygiene management plays a crucial role in ensuring the well-being, health, and dignity of women and girls. Lack of access to clean water, sanitary products, and adequate sanitation facilities can have adverse effects on women’s lives, including health issues, social exclusion, and limited educational and economic opportunities. Menstrual Hygiene Day seeks to advocate for positive changes in policies, programs, and attitudes towards menstruation to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all. In developing countries, women’s choices are limited by the costs, availability and social norms. Also, traditional cultures in these developing countries make it difficult to discuss menstruation openly. This limits access to relevant and important information about normal functioning of the female body.
On this day, various activities and events are organized globally, including workshops, discussions, awareness campaigns, and distribution of menstrual products. These initiatives aim to engage communities, empower women and girls, promote gender equality, and foster open conversations about menstruation. It’s also an occasion for popularizing or distributing information in the Media and to engage decision makers in policy dialogue. The day aims to advocate for the integration of menstrual hygiene management.
Menstrual Hygiene Day has gained significant recognition and support from governments, NGOs, activists, and individuals worldwide. Its overarching goal is to ensure that menstruation is seen as a normal, healthy bodily function and that everyone has access to the necessary resources and support to manage their menstruation safely and hygienically. The theme is making menstruation a normal fact of life by the year 2030 and to build a world where no one is held back because they menstruate.
The day is observed on the 28th day of the fifth month of the year because menstrual cycles average 28 days in length and people menstruate an average of five days each month.
#WeAreCommitted is the theme and hashtag of the 2023 campaign.
By Martha Nelima