Menstruation is a natural and routine part of life for healthy girls and women, but in many parts of the world, it is accompanied by shame and fear. Cultural taboos about menstruation and perceptions that women are unclean when they have their periods are barriers to open discussion and societal support. Without education from parents and teachers, girls often begin menarche in isolation, without any understanding of what is happening to their bodies.
In many low-resource settings, this culture of silence is compounded by limited resources to help women manage their periods. Insufficient attention to menstrual care within gender and reproductive health education, a lack of access to affordable and appropriate menstrual care products, and an absence of appropriate sanitation and waste disposal systems limit women's potential and perpetuate gender inequalities.
Fortunately, there is a growing global movement to address these gaps. With increased support, these efforts have the potential to unlock tremendous health and opportunity for girls, women, and communities around the globe.
- Poor menstrual health exacts a tremendous human and financial toll.
- Many menstrual care products are still not available through mainstream markets, and prices remain too high for many of the low-income women who would benefit the most.
- There is also considerable need for educational curricula that can be adapted for different contexts and age groups; improved WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) services; waste disposal approaches that allow women to manage menstruation safely and with dignity; better research about how menstruation affects womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s health and development; and increased awareness and advocacy.