International Menstrual Hygiene Day: 28 May
Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD, MH Day in short) is an annual awareness day on May 28 to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management (MHM). It was initiated by the German-based NGO WASH United in 2014 and aims to benefit women and girls worldwide. The 28th was selected to acknowledge that 28 days is the average length of the menstrual cycle.
In low-income countries, women and girls’ choices of menstrual hygiene materials are often limited by the costs, availability and social norms.
Adequate sanitation facilities and access to feminine hygiene products are one part of the solution. Creating a culture that welcomes discussion and makes adequate education for girls is of equal importance. Research has found that not having access to menstrual hygiene management products can keep girls home from school during their period each month.
Menstrual Hygiene Day creates an occasion for publicizing information in the media, including social media. Public information campaigns can help to engage decision-makers in policy dialogue. The day offers an opportunity to actively advocate for the integration of menstrual hygiene management (MHM) into global, national and local policies and programmes.
Menstrual hygiene day is meant to serve as a platform to bring together individuals, organisations, social businesses and the media to create a united and strong voice for women and girls around the world, helping to break the silence about menstrual hygiene management according to the Daily Star and the author Ljoo Bosco.
The objectives of MHD according to Bax and Keiser (2014) include:
To address the challenges and hardships many women and girls face during their menstruation.
To highlight the positive and innovative solutions being taken to address these challenges.
To catalyse a growing, global movement that recognizes and supports girl’s and women’s rights and build partnerships among those partners on national and local level.
To engage in policy dialogue and actively advocate for the integration of menstrual hygiene management (MHM) into global, national and local policies and programmes.
To create an occasion for media work, including social media.
Menstrual Hygiene Day makes audible and visible a growing movement that promotes body literacy and autonomy, as well as gender equality.
What are the Challenges?
Menstrual hygiene management can be particularly challenging for girls and women in developing countries, where clean water and toilet facilities are often inadequate. In addition, traditional cultures make it difficult to discuss menstruation openly. This limits women’s and adolescent girls’ access to relevant and important information about the normal functions of their own body. This directly affects their health, education and dignity. Access to information can be considered a human right.
Currently there are about 3.73 billion women in the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 52% , or 1.9 billion, of those women are of reproductive age, thus menstruating (WHO,2018).
Women at some point in their life will go thru the reproductive age and thus, will experience menstruation.
In 2016, Loughnan, Libbet C., Rob Bain, Rosemary Rop, Marni Sommer, and Tom Slaymaker, discussed findings by the Water Supply and Sanitation Council (WSSCC) having estimated that daily 300 million women are menstruating. One average according to the WSSCC, a women will spend about 3,500 days during their life menstruating.
Many young girls and women of menstruating age live in poor socio-economic environments. WIlber, Torondel,Hameed, Mahon and Kuper (2019) state that 663 million people lack basic access to safe water and 2.4 billion people lack adequate access to basic sanitary conditions.
For women and girls, the lack of safe, accessible water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is particularly troubling during menstruation and child birth.
According to data collected and reported on, Loughnan (2017) points out that half a billion (or 13%) of women lacked a place to defecate, have little to no privacy for menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and 3/4 of those lacked access to soap and water.
In a 2014 study conducted in India, the researchers found that as many as 42% of women who participated in the study did not know about sanitary pads or from where in their anatomy menstruation originated. "Most of them were scared or worried on first menstruation.
Worldwide, in 2018, one in three women does not have access to a working toilet at all. Menstrual hygiene management issues have been ignored by professionals in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector, and in the health and education sectors, too.