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.