This article explores the reasons why menstrual hygiene management is not generally included in WASH initiatives, the social and health impacts of this neglect on women and girls, and provides examples of successful approaches to tackling menstrual hygiene in WASH in the South Asia region.
- To be effective, there is a need to tackle gender inequalities through female empowerment, confronting the gendered perceptions and beliefs about roles and responsibilities (particularly in relation to water, sanitation and hygiene) held by both women and men, and challenging cultural and religious practices.
- Lack of awareness of development practitioners, policy-makers and communities about the problem, and appropriate solutions, has meant that menstrual hygiene is not prioritized in either the supply of and demand for WASH services.
- WASH programmes are largely focused on shorter-term interventions, which limits the possibility for cultural change. It is therefore essential to work collaboratively with others, including social activists, gender specialists and the health and education sectors.