The power of involving boys in menstrual hygiene management

Updated - Tuesday 09 January 2018

Lamus is a 12-year-old student at St. John’s Primary School where HEWASA, one of our partner organisations, implements the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) activities as part of the WASH and Learn! programme. Lamus participated in the training conducted by HEWASA on making the Reusable Menstrual Pads (RUMPs) and gladly brought this piece of knowledge back home, teaching his mother and sister what he learned in school. “My mother is a poor woman. So with these skills of making RUMPs, I want her to learn how to make pads for herself and reduce the cost of buying pads from the shops,” said Lamus.

12-year-old Lamus giving instruction on how to make pads in his community

When Lamus introduced the idea of making RUMPs to his mother, Maureen, she was impressed with how simple it is to make a reusable pad. “I have always used pieces of my old clothes without minding the hygiene issues. This has always been a challenge because the fabrics I was using are not comfortable or reliable. Now I use RUMPs which are comfortable and I feel confident that I do not need to worry about hygiene problems,” says Maureen. Furthermore, she taught five of her friends how to make RUMPs and together they plan to introduce RUMPs in women groups as well as offer counselling services to young girls in the village.

In the communities where we implement the WASH & Learn! programme, menstruation  is seen as women’s territory which is secretive and shouldn’t be discussed in public or in the presence of men. This perception has led to stigmatization and segregation of women and girls in society. Girls from low-income families often resort to using unhygienic rags and cloths, which could cause infections. Moreover, it is alleged that some girls engage in transactional sex in order to obtain money to purchase sanitary pads, putting themselves at the risk of early pregnancies and contracting diseases such as HIV.  

HEWASA’s promotion of proper MHM practices involves sensitizing people on the concept of menstruation and enlightening them about the role of all community members, especially men and boys, in managing menstruation through affordable means.

Lamus facilitating a Reusable Menstrual Pads training of a women's group in his village

Everyone deserves a dignified life. Bringing boys and men on board is essential to breaking the silence around menstruation and achieving the goal that no one is left behind.

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, and 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 use the WASH services properly.

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