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UN Day: Menstruation and the Sustainable Development Goals

October 24, UN Day 

UN Day or United Nations Day is celebrated globally on 24th October. It marks the existence of the UN Charter in the year 1945. Given that today is an important day, we wanted to highlight the relationship between menstrual health management and the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

GiveHer5 in a nutshell

At GiveHer5, we are committed to bringing safe, sanitary solutions to women in rural areas across India. As a social initiative, we use your donations to provide Saafkins, a reusable and affordable sanitary panty, to women that would otherwise resort to unhygienic and harmful alternatives. Through our expansive network of corporate and NGO partners, we distribute Saafkins, hold informative workshops and perform critical research to ensure that women have equal opportunity to attend school and work, closing the education and income gaps caused by period poverty.

 

So, what are Sustainable Development Goals? 

In 2015, all the Member States of the United Nations came together to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals in a bid to achieve certain objectives by 2030. It is a call to action on a global scale to eliminate poverty, conserve and protect the planet and make sure that peace and prosperity is a reality for every human.

GiveHer5 Blog UN Day

There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and each one can affect outcomes in other areas. These goals are designed to make a positive impact by working to eliminate poverty, hunger, AIDS and discrimination against women and girls. Society needs to contribute through knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources to reach such ambitious targets. In fact, countries have committed to advance those that fall behind the first to achieve any of the sustainable development goals. 

Menstrual Health Management and Sustainable Development Goals 

For those who bleed, taking care of health and hygiene is an essential part of life; however, several menstruators do not have access to the right tools and resources that can help them look after their menstrual health in ways that are safe and hygienic.  When it comes to the issue of menstrual hygiene, women are shunned by their community; they face health issues as well as interference in their schooling and education. One-third of girls in India cannot attend school while on their period because they do not have access to the right facilities and sanitary products as reported by UNICEF. As a result, – they fall behind their male counterparts in their studies. 

To highlight the problems faced with regards to menstrual health management – an event was hosted on the 11th of July at the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development with the primary focus being on menstrual hygiene and its consequences for the 2030 Agenda. The parties that came together to host this event were the Menstrual Hygiene Alliance, Simavi, Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council, Global Citizen and Wash United.  Some key speakers were from the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia and Kenya Water for Health

Going beyond the morality issues, what was brought to light was how menstrual health touches several of the Sustainable Development Goals like health and sanitation, education, gender equality and responsible consumption. So it wouldn’t be wrong to consider menstrual health management when looking at ways to achieve these Global Goals. Another point discussed by the panellists was the need to eliminate cultural taboos associated with menstruation as well as the distribution of resources and dissemination of information through education. While educating menstruators in school has been conducive to arming them with knowledge and resources to manage their menstrual health, it is important to remember that not every child has access to schooling and information. 

Another critical point addressed was the need to provide more options to young menstruators so that they have a say on how to manage their menstrual health. This gives people the power to make a choice on what works best for them as well as allows them to look at cheaper alternatives and environmentally friendly options as opposed to the regular one-time use pads. In conclusion, menstruation is not a one-dimensional issue – it is interwoven with the UN’s Global Goals 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 12. There is no reason for menstrual health to limit access to education, safety and well-being and if we want there to be progressive changes in this area, then the UN must include menstrual hygiene in the 2030 Agenda.

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