Menstrual hygiene and the need for women friendly toilets

Most sanitation programmes are silent about women and adolescent girls’ need to clean and change menstrual towels and menstrual management tends to be ignored in latrine design and construction and excluded from hygiene education packages. Even reproductive health and preventive health programmes in developing countries often do not address this sensitive issue. A recent article in Source Bulletin describes how WaterAid has tackled this issue in Bangladesh.

One of the first studies to highlight the lack of attention in the water sector given to menstrual hygiene was written by
Sowmyaa Bharadwaj and Archana Patkar from Junction Social consultants, Mumbai, India, in November 2004, called “Menstrual Management in Developing Countries: Taking Stock”. They gave a presentation on this topic at the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Schools Roundtable meeting, which took place in Oxford, UK, 24-26 January 2005.

In Africa, one of the activities of the QUEST programme (1998-2006) involved research in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Uganda on the links between life skills, sexual maturation and school sanitation. One of aspects looked at was how poor menstrual management negatively affected girls school attendance. Unfortunately the research reports from this study are not available online.

The latest issue of Source Weekly elaborates on an earlier posting in this blog about the problems women in Kampala, Uganda, face due to the lack of proper places for disposal of used sanitary pads. The Source article also gives a link to a report published last year, called “Menstrual hygiene: a neglected condition for the achievement of several Millennium Development Goals”. The report was the outcome of a “Stakeholder Meeting on Menstrual Hygiene for Girls and Women in Developing Countries”, held on 28 November in The Hague, The Netherlands.

9 responses to “Menstrual hygiene and the need for women friendly toilets

  1. I was really pleased to see ‘Menstrual Hygiene: A neglected condition…’, a useful publication on menstrual hygiene, a very overlooked area which should be considered as an integral of all sanitation programmes. Thanks to the authors for this useful resource.

  2. Subhankar Bhattacharya

    I am looking after Menstrual Hygiene Management Programme implemented jointly by Dept. of Panchayat and Rural Development, Govt. of West Bengal and UNICEF Office of West Bengal. The basic aim of this project is to build awareness on menstrual hygiene and install manufacturing unit for economically priced sanitary napkins in all the districts of the state. Installation of low-cost incinerator is also one of the priority areas of the project. Already, a unit has been installed in one of the most backward districts of West Bengal, Purulia and the unit is running successfully. This model will be replicated in other districts of the state.
    This unit is providing livelihood opportunities to around 40 women and has brought about a percetible change in the district.

  3. Dear Subhankar
    Where would one find more details of the excellent programme that you are looking after? Where did you source the incinerators? .. and finally where is the programme running in Purulia?
    Thank you for your comments in advance

  4. Subhankar Bhattacharya

    I will be able to provide the details of the programme. This programme is run entirely by the SHG women.The women with support from the Dept. of Panchayat & Rural Development, Govt. of West Bengal and UNICEF has already installed machineries and manufacturing quality products. Products manufactured by this group has been distributed among AILA-affected women in the Sunderbans. The Incinerators have been installed in school and college hostels and have been constructed at the site. This has been done as per models followed in most of the states for disposal of menstrual waste.

  5. My email i.d is Would really appreciate information on locations and details of the programme

  6. Hi Subhankar
    Congratulations on some really fantastic work! We are upscaling our efforts in the water and sanitation sector here in Nepal to pay more attention to this important issue. We plan very soon to print a short but comprehensive information leaflet for girls as an awareness raising campaign and also for them to learn how to take care of their health and hygiene during menstruation. Do you have any examples of such information leaflets for your programme?

    many thanks,

  7. Helo
    iam the sudent of Master in public health doing my research project on menstruation.Copuld u give me some sources of eduation

  8. Hello Subhankar,
    Keen to see your work on menstrual hygiene. My e-mail is :
    Can I get in touch with you?
    Ranjan Ghosh

  9. I’m realy thrilled about this topic. Presently i’ undertaking a project research work on my course of study with menstral hygiene being the topic and will be happy if you’ll help me through it. Thanks.

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