Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) is organized on May 28 to raise awareness of the challenges women and girls worldwide face due to their menstruation and to highlight solutions that address these challenges.
MH Day is a global platform that brings together non-government organizations, government agencies, the private sector, the media and individuals to promote menstrual hygiene management (MHM). MH day is initiated by WASH United in 2013; and on 28 May 2014, it was celebrated for the first time.
To create a world in which every women and girl can manage her menstruation in a hygienic way whenever she is–in privacy, safety, and with dignity.
Menstrual hygiene day aims to break the silence and build awareness about fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential.
Menstruation is still a taboo in India and it is common for people across society to feel uncomfortable about the subject. Menstrual practices are influenced by taboos and socio-cultural restrictions for women as well as adolescent girls. Coupled with it, the lack of access to menstrual hygiene (which includes sanitary napkins, toilets in schools/household, availability of water, privacy and safe disposal) could restrict school attendance, social mobility and contribute to local infections during this period. Therefore, creating awareness and increasing access to the requisite sanitary infrastructure related to menstrual hygiene is important.
Activities to promote menstrual hygiene management in India:
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) (2009) includes standards for drinking water and gender-separated sanitation facilities in schools.
Menstrual hygiene scheme launched by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India (GoI) for promotion of menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls (10-19 years) in rural areas of selected districts in 2011. From 2014 onwards scheme extended to all districts under Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram to enhance MH knowledge, improve hygiene practices, provide subsidised sanitary absorbents, and raise awareness of MHM at school.
SABLA programme of Ministry of Women and Child Development focuses on nutrition, health, hygiene and reproductive and sexual health (linked to rural mother and child care centres).
National Rural Livelihood Mission of the Ministry of Rural Development supports self-help groups and small manufacturers to produce sanitary pads.
Swachh Bharat Mission and Swachh Bharat: Swachh Vidyalaya (SB:SV): Menstrual hygiene management is also an integral part of the Swachh Bharat Mission and the ‘Menstrual Hygiene Management Guideline’ issued by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation(MDWS) involves the support from state governments, district administrations, engineers and technical experts in line departments; and school head teachers and teachers for its implementation.
Guidelines for Gender Issues in Sanitation (2017) have been evolved by MDWS to ensure gender equality and empowerment of women and girls with respect to sanitation.
Safe and effective MHM is a trigger for better and stronger development for adolescent girls and women. This requires that all state, district and local authorities, including schools, communities and families create an environment where menstrual hygiene management is seen as acceptable and normal.