Menstrual Hygiene Day 2020: What is it and why is it so important?

Sarah Young

Each day, an estimated 300 million people menstruate around the world and being able to access sanitary products, safe and hygienic spaces in which to use them and the right to manage their periods without shame, is essential.

However for many people across the globe, this is not the reality.

The social stigmas and taboos surrounding menstruation often prevent people who menstruate from attending work and school, and even when they do attend, the lack of access to menstrual hygiene products, sanitation infrastructure and menstrual hygiene education can prevent them from reaching their full potential.

For this reason, WASH United, a German non-profit advocacy and education group with a focus on menstrual hygiene and human rights, launched Menstrual Hygiene Day – a day dedicated to breaking the silence around periods.

Here is everything you need to know about Menstrual Hygiene Day, from when it takes place to how you can get involved.

What is menstrual hygiene day?

Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) is a global advocacy platform that brings together the voices and actions of non-profits, government agencies, individuals, the private sector and the media to promote good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) for all.

More specifically, the day aims to raises awareness and change negative social norms around menstruation and create a world in which everyone is empowered to manage menstruation safely, hygienically, with confidence and without shame.

When is it?

Menstrual Hygiene Day takes place every year on 28 May. The organisers chose this date because the average duration of a menstrual cycle is 28 days and, on average, women and girls menstruate for five days per month. Hence 28-5, or 28 May.

What is this year’s theme?

This year, MH Day recognises that periods do not stop for pandemics in light of the coronavirus crisis, using the hashtag #PeriodsInPandemics.

The theme aims to highlight how the current pandemic is further exacerbating the menstruation-related challenges many adults and teenagers face around the world.

Schools, community centres and other places where women and girls can typically access critical information about menstruation are closed in many countries, while routine health services have also been reduced, MH Day states.

The organisation adds that lockdown has also intensified the impact of household-level taboos and stigmas and can make it more difficult to manage menstruation without shame and discomfort.

Similarly, it says that many subsidised supply schemes such as the free distribution of menstrual products in schools, have been suspended.

How can you take part?

Typically, hundreds of events and activities are organised by MH Day and its partners to mark the event, ranging from educational sessions in schools, community rallies and concerts to raise awareness.

However because of the coronavirus crisis, events are being moved online and people are being urged to support the cause in other ways, including on social media. Hashtags that you can use include #MHDAY2020 #ItsTimeForAction and #PeriodsInPandemics.

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) has also come up with a number of ways people can get involved this year, such as the “Menstruation Bracelet Challenge” which encourages anyone to made a bracelet that includes the colour red to symbolise the menstrual cycle and share their photos on social media.

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