On International Women's Day in 2013, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Councilheld Celebrating Womanhood: Menstrual Hygiene Management, a unique event that brought together a wide and deep range of participants to focus on issues related to menstruation. The event provided a chance to forge new connections and to make the "unspeakable" topic speakable. As the report describes, menstruation is still a taboo issue and has been neglected within WASH and in the field of human rights, but research and promising approaches and partnerships are already underway.
- 71% of girls and women surveyed had no idea what was happening to them when they began to bleed. Teachers rarely teach menstrual hygiene, and even many junior doctors are not properly trained in it.
- Only 12% of girls and women have access to commercial sanitary products. Infections from using unsanitary rags for menstrual cloths are common.
- Sanitary products are disposed of wherever girls and women can do so secretly and easily -- usually the nearest open defecation field, river, or garbage dump.
- Menstrual hygiene is an issue of girl-child health, education, business, income generation, and sustainability. This case needs to be clearly made in order for it to receive greater attention and funding.
- More large-scale studies, information sharing, and collaboration are needed to improve the research landscape for menstrual hygiene.