“Everyone is a product of a missed period”

Updated - Monday 18 December 2017

Although menstruation is a natural and normal part of the reproductive cycle for all women, it is not considered as such in most of the communities where we implement the WASH and Learn! programme. As proper management of the menstruation process is critical to the health of women, Simavi sees menstrual hygiene management (MHM) as one of the most vital learnings contributing to the success of the WASH and Learn! programme.

Lack of knowledge on menstruation is a major problem that leads to a culture of silence in communities as well as numerous taboos which in turn cause women to feel excluded, ashamed, and stigmatised. Most girls are not told about menstruation before they have their period, not by their family or in school, and therefore they lack proper knowledge and skills to manage their period well. We address this concern and work towards creating an enabling environment by fostering conversation at all levels, including families, schools, communities and governments.

Effective Menstrual Hygiene Management Methods

To break the silence on menstruation, our actions included holding awareness and advocacy meetings with school staff and pupils, local leaders, and government officials to get buy-in. We note their experiences and build on their views to clarify purposes, and draw up a targeted campaign that involves them, enabling them to become advocates.  

Other key actions include training School Health Clubs on MHM promotion, involving women in MHM advocacy, sharing informative education materials about MHM, and motivating parliament and relevant government structures to advocate for MHM in schools and communities.

In addition, it is critical to create an enabling environment in which girls and women are able to manage their menstruation by ensuring relevant facilities such as clean toilets, clean water and soap, space for girls to clean themselves, sanitary materials, painkillers, and proper ways to dispose of used sanitary pads, are available.

Making Reusable Menstrual Pads

Ensuring the availability of sanitary materials is essential to the success of MHM. Reusable menstrual pads made of cotton are identified as the most affordable and healthy options, compared with menstrual cups and disposable pads. We carry out programme activities to train girls and women in making their own pads with cotton material, soft cotton towels, and needle and thread.

About WASH and Learn!

The WASH and Learn! programme integrates community and school WASH projects in three adjacent countries in East Africa; Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Together with six local NGO partners, Simavi implements this programme, focusing on water supply, sanitation and hygiene behaviour improvements. 

Simavi continues to work with communities on creating a positive and enabling environment in which every stakeholder is active and to ensure that people are using the WASH services properly.

More information on the WASH & Learn! programme can be found here.