SCA and WSSCC partner to break silence around menstruation

Geneva, 17 November 2014 – SCA, a leading global hygiene and forest products company, and the Geneva-based Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), the only United Nations body devoted solely to the sanitation and hygiene needs of vulnerable and marginalized people, have today entered into an innovative new partnership to break the silence around menstruation for women and girls around the world. SCA and WSSCC will jointly work to educate on menstrual issues and the importance of good hygiene.

The parties announced the partnership in Cape Town, South Africa, in connection with Team SCA’s first stop-over in the Volvo Ocean Race round the world competition. During the Cape Town stop-over, Team SCA attended a menstrual hygiene workshop with girls and women from the townships of Khayelitsha and Gugaletu, where experts from WSSCC, the Volunteer Centre (a Cape Town NGO), and SCA led a training session and discussion of the challenges the women face in managing their periods.

The partnership will include actions during, and between, the race stopovers until June 2015. These include Brazil (Itajai), China (Sanya), New Zealand (Auckland), Portugal (Lisbon), South Africa (Cape Town), Sweden (Gothenburg), The Netherlands (The Hague), United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi) and the USA (Newport).

“Safe and hygienic menstruation is a basic human right and fundamental to women’s equality,” said Chris Williams, executive director of WSSCC. “Securing this right requires action at every level of society, from the girls and women of Khayelitsha and Gugaletu to multinational companies like SCA. I am proud that SCA has stepped up to the challenge, and I look forward to working closely with them to continue breaking the silence around menstruation.”

“Breaking the silence is the first step towards change”, said Rockaya Aidara, Programme Officer for Policy, Media, Advocacy and Communications at WSSCC.  Photo credit: Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi

“Breaking the silence is the first step towards change”, said Rockaya Aidara, Programme Officer for Policy, Media, Advocacy and Communications at WSSCC.
Photo credit: Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi

“A majority of adolescent girls and women in the world do not have access to adequate information about menstruation nor access to sanitation or hygiene products,” said Jan Johansson, President and CEO of SCA. “With the WSSCC partnership SCA aims to break the menstrual taboos that jeopardize the health of millions of women every day, raise the awareness of menstrual hygiene and empower women and communities to take action, as menstruation should not hold women back to participate fully in society socially, educationally and professionally.”

“They asked a lot of good questions,” said Sally Barkow who also emphasized the importance of talking to young girls about these issues. “You can even see a bit of their confidence now after only a couple of hours training.” Photo credit: Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi

“They asked a lot of good questions,” said Sally Barkow of Team SCA, who also emphasized the importance of talking to young girls about these issues. “You can even see a bit of their confidence now after only a couple of hours training.”
Photo credit: Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi

In many developing countries, millions of women and girls are left to manage their periods with solutions at hand, such as cloth, paper or clay and no access to private toilets, water or soap. Sanitary products like pads are unaffordable or simply unavailable, and urinary or reproductive tract infections are common. As a result, girls miss valuable days in school, and women are unable to work, stifling productivity and advancement.

Watch:

Facts:

  • On any given day, more than 800 million women between the ages of 15-49 are menstruating. Adequate and appropriate sanitation and hygiene facilities can provide a comfortable space for them to manage their menstruation with privacy and dignity.[1]
  • 70.9% of girls in India had no idea what was happening to them when they started their first period.[2]
  • One school study in Ethiopia reported over 50% of girls missing between one and four days of school per month due to menstruation.[3]
  • A factory case study in Bangladesh showed that 60% of female workers used rags from the factory floor as menstrual cloths. This resulted in infections that caused 73% of the women workforce missing work for an average of six days a month. An intervention to change this saw absenteeism drop to 3% resulting in significant economic gains for workers and factory owner.[4]
  • Women and girls living without any toilets (which also provide safe spaces for managing menstruation) spend 97 billion hours each year finding a place to go.[5]
  • 23% of Indian girls drop out of school after reaching puberty.[7]
  • Only 12% of India’s 355 million menstruating women use sanitary napkins.[8]

About WSSCC — The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council is at the heart of the global movement to improve sanitation and hygiene, so that all people can enjoy healthy and productive lives. Established in 1990, WSSCC is the only United Nations body devoted solely to the sanitation needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized people. In collaboration with our members in 150 countries, WSSCC advocates for the billions of people worldwide who lack access to good sanitation, shares solutions that empower communities, and operates the Global Sanitation Fund, which since 2008 has committed $97 million to transform lives in developing countries. Learn more at www.wsscc.org.

About SCA — SCA is a leading global hygiene and forest products company. The Group develops and produces sustainable personal care, tissue and forest products. Sales are conducted in about 100 countries under many strong brands, including the leading global brands TENA and Tork, and regional brands, such as Libero, Libresse, Lotus, Nosotras, Saba, Tempo and Vinda. As Europe’s largest private forest owner, SCA places considerable emphasis on sustainable forest management. The Group has about 44,000 employees. Sales in 2013 amounted to approximately SEK 93bn (EUR 10.7bn). SCA was founded in 1929, has its headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, and is listed on NASDAQ OMX Stockholm. For more information, visit www.sca.com.


[1] Team SCA is the only all-female crew in this year’s Volvo Ocean Race. www.teamsca.com/

[1] Needs and Trends in Menstrual Management: A Global Analysis; Ashwini Sebastian and Vivian Hoffmann, University of Maryland and Sarah Adelman, Mount Holyoke College

[2] In 2012, WSSCC designed and ran a Menstrual Hygiene Lab as part of the Great Wash Yatra that journeyed through five Indian states and 2,000km over 51 days. Twelve thousand girls and women took part in focus group discussions and 747 completed formal surveys.

[3] Menstrual hygiene matters, WaterAid 2012

[4] Jennifer Schappert, HER project and BSR at the Celebrating Women meeting in Geneva, March 8th, 2013

[5] WaterAid: Briefing note – 1 in 3 women lack access to safe toilets (19 November 2012).

[7] WSSCC

[8] IBID

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