28 May 2017

Today, the 28th May, is International Menstrual Hygiene Day – a day to raise awareness of the challenges that women and girls worldwide face due to their menstruation as well as highlight solutions that address these challenges.

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#menstruationmatters #mhday2017

Menstrual Hygiene Day 2017 is all about education. The theme is: ‘From Anxiety to Confidence: Education about Menstruation Changes Everything’.

“This is 2017 and still menstrual health is a taboo topic around the globe”[1]. Taboos impact upon people’s lives. Many feel that they have to miss work, avoid travel, and skip school when they are on their period. Education about menstruation management and creating positive norms around menstruation are incredibly important.

Why Menstrual Hygiene Day is so important:

In many communities, women on their periods are banished from their homes. They stay, for the duration of their period, in a separate isolated building. Many are also forbidden from entering kitchens or bedrooms, or going near water sources. To hear more about Chhaupadi in Nepal, listen to this BBC World Service podcast: ‘Nepal: Banished for Bleeding’.



Our ecosan toilets in schools provide students with a clean and hygienic place to go to the toilet and safely manage their menstruation. Our toilets in senior schools contain private hygiene units for washing, as well as incinerators for burning used sanitary towels.



Arthi, from Odakanallore in India, described how difficult menstrual hygiene management at school was before their ecosan toilet block:


“Changing sanitary towels was near impossible to do in the small toilet and crowded atmosphere. Because of this, many girls would miss class. Some girls who used sanitary towels were not able to change their towel or wash themselves at school, causing them to stain their dresses. They would cry because they felt embarrassed”

Alongside the construction of clean, safe sanitation blocks in schools; Sanitation First community development workers also provide schools with WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) education to ensure that students are informed about safe menstrual hygiene management practices.

“Now with the newly constructed sanitary block, with an exclusive washroom, all our problems are solved. The lady who cleans the sanitary block regularly burns the disposed sanitary towels in the new incinerator.”

Another student, Abhinaya, added:

“The hygiene education is very useful and it has improved our understandings of personal hygiene, in particular the need for menstrual hygiene practices”

You too can get involved in Menstrual Hygiene Day. It’s your turn to take tackle the taboos around menstruation and head to social media using the hashtags #mhday2017 #menstruationmatters – don’t forget to tag us @SanFirstUK. We’re on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

If you’d like to find out more about what we do, some relevent blog posts include our International Women’s Day post here and our Christmas Appeal post here.

If you’d like to donate to our work supporting women and girls through access to clean, safe sanitation in India and Sierra Leone, then click here.



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