Menstruation, also known as Periods is a regular natural cycle that occurs in the female reproductive system but girls particularly in Pakistan dread getting their periods. Unfortunately in Pakistan, menstruation is a hushed matter due to cultural constraints. Therefore, many girls face a lot of obstacles when it comes to sanitation.
According to UNICEF report, only 20 percent of girls have access to sanitary napkins in school whereas most of the girls reported that they can’t go to schools if they can’t find pads to wear or a toilet in which to change them in the school premises. Girls also reported a lack of adequate facilities in school bathrooms while some schools don’t have running water so that girls can keep their hands and bodies clean while menstruating. There is a dire need to break the silence on this topic, so that millions of young girls every year don’t see their period as a disability, but a natural, normal part of their lives.
In a bid to break the stereotype associated with menstruation, the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) campaign was launched by the MHM working group to increase awareness about sanitation and menstruation hygiene environment.
The day is observed on May 28 every year across the world aims at creating awareness to break taboos and myths around menstruation and to encourage women to overcome their hesitation about menses.
Every year, the theme is different and this year, the global theme of the day is “Menstruation Matters for Everyone, Everywhere.”
In Pakistan, a panel discussion was held which focused on how the health, education, and sanitation of adolescent girls are impacted by lack of proper MHM was organized. Panelists included government representatives from across the country that explored the much-needed solutions to tackle the taboo and associated problems that females’ especially young adolescent girls face. The event was organized by the MHM Working Group, a coalition of humanitarian organizations working to champion menstrual hygiene rights in Pakistan.
Menstrual Hygiene Management remains a taboo in Pakistan which affects a woman’s self-esteem, health and education.
Young girls in Pakistan bare most of this brunt as they lack the knowledge and services to manage menstruation which in turn affects their learning experiences. Research reveals that marginalized girls can miss up to two to four consecutive days of schools every four weeks due to their periods. This of course has serious implications on their learning.
Women are the bringer of new life into the world, and periods are a part of that process. This is an attitude that we need to bring back into our conversations, but also our attitudes, towards all matters related to sexual and reproductive health. It is time that all sectors come together to break the silence around MHM by supporting strong policy implementation across all state levels.