What Is Menstrual Hygiene?
Written by Cinestie Olson
May 28th is internationally known as Menstrual Hygiene Day! Menstrual Hygiene Day was established in 2014 by a Germany-based group called Wash United, and has been internationally celebrated every year on the same day. There’s even a meaning behind this day being on May 28th - menstruators’ cycles are typically 28 days, and menstruation is on average 5 days (5/28, wow!) Now, we all know that this day must be important if it’s internationally known. However, what exactly is menstrual hygiene, and why should we be aware of it?
What Is It?
Menstrual hygiene is the access to period products that can absorb or collect blood during menstruation, privacy to change period products, and the ability to clean or throw period products away safely and cleanly.
Over 1.8 billion people in the world menstruate. Girls, women, nonbinary people, and transgender men will bleed each month. However, some of these menstruators unfortunately do not have access to a clean and safe period during their cycle. A lack of menstrual hygiene can include limited access to bathrooms, clean period products, education, and acceptance.
Why Is It Important?
Many menstruators in the world face their period with taboo, stigma, and lack of education due to the climate they are in. This can also be considered part of Period Poverty, which affects over 500 million people worldwide. Menstrual hygiene is not confined to a single country, as these challenges are faced every day everywhere. Some menstruators are unable to go to work or school due to the lack of affordable period products. Some are not able to privately change their period products due to no access to a bathroom or other proper sanitary spaces. Some menstruators don’t even know where to start when it comes to their period because they have no prior education about the subject.
Talking about menstrual hygiene and advocating can help eliminate the stigma around menstruation. Education is one of the most important steps to take to promote healthy attitudes towards menstruation!
Organizations That Help This Cause
If you missed out on this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day, don’t worry! There are many organizations that provide education and resources all year long.
Wash United was the organization that founded Menstrual Hygiene Day! Their website includes a comprehensive education packet on all things menstrual hygiene - there’s even a free guide for everyone to use! You can also donate to their organization to continue their efforts to educate across the globe.
PERIOD helps eliminate period poverty by providing products to menstruators in need. They have groups and chapters across 20 different countries that provide service, education, and advocacy for menstruators!The Desai Foundation created a pledge for this month known as #PledgeYourPeriod to end the cycle of period stigma and poverty. The campaign also supports their Asani Sanitary Napkin program, where they provide clean and safe period products to menstruators in rural India!