Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)
What is MHM? Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) refers to the management of hygiene associated with the menstrual process such as washing water, soap and the using any of the products mentioned in part 1 (sanitary pads, menstrual cups, tampons etc).
Females, mostly in developing countries often find menstrual hygiene difficult to manage due to a lack of access to appropriate sanitary products, water supply for washing hands and cleaning their body if stained, or facilities to feel safe in and facilities with a safe disposal method for used cloths or pads.
In some communities, taboos surrounding menstruation exclude women and
girls from many aspects of social and cultural life as well as menstrual hygiene services. Such taboos include not being able to touch animals, water points, or food
that others will eat. In some areas during menstruation women are excluded from religious rituals, the family home and sanitation facilities. As a result, women and girls are often denied access to water and sanitation when they need it most.
In the UNICEF-Guide to menstrual-hygiene-materials the definition of MHM was ‘Women and adolescent girls... using a clean menstrual management material to absorb or collect menstrual blood, that can be changed in privacy as often as necessary for the duration of a menstrual period, using soap and water for washing the body as required, and having access to safe and convenient facilities to dispose of used menstrual management materials. They understand the basic facts linked to the menstrual cycle and how to manage it with dignity.'
The above assertion is not the case for a lot of females in the developing world.
Impact on education and sporting activities
In most communities in the poorer regions of the developing countries, many homes and schools do not have facilities to support menstruating females in managing menstrual hygiene with dignity. Lack of water & sanitation facilities, and lack of money to buy adequate menstrual hygiene management products, make managing menstruation with dignity very difficult. Inevitably, girls are forced to use inappropriate materials, resulting in blood stained clothes and a lot of embarrassment especially in mixed educational institutions. This leads to school absences including lack of participation in sporting activities. Girls have been known to stop attending school completely due to the inability to access menstrual hygiene products and lack of a safe place to dispose of used products.
The problem is particularly acute in rural communities where families are generally poor and do not have running water. Buying buckets or bowls to fetch water and soap for washing may not be as important as putting food on the table. The female is left to manage herself with no resources and very susceptible to trade sex for sanitary products if offered.
Period poverty is worldwide. It was previously thought that lack of access to MHM was only in developing countries. However, it has been shown to be present in some developed nations.
What is Period poverty?
Period poverty is the lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints. It is estimated that currently over 137,000 children across the UK have missed school days due to period poverty. Previously across the UK, 5% VAT was added to sanitary products, including tampons, pads and towels. This tax is now abolished.
“New research from Plan International UK reveals the true extent of period poverty in COVID-19 lockdown, as 3 in 10 girls struggle to afford or access sanitary wear.
Almost a third (30%) of girls aged 14-21 have had issues either affording or accessing sanitary wear in lockdown, a survey released today by global children’s charity Plan International UK reveal. Shockingly, over half (54%) of these girls have used toilet paper as an alternative to period products. But even that hasn’t always been an option during lockdown, as one in five girls (20%) said their periods have also been harder to manage due to the lack of toilet roll available.”.
Some governments around the world have taken steps to provide free sanitary products at schools but that is a far cry for the developing countries who are struggling with their economies.
EWAD UK Personal Hygiene Packs (PHP)
Before the issue of period poverty broke in the UK, EWAD UK had the foresight to consider the plight of the indigent menstruating females students back in Nigeria and decided to prepare Personal Hygiene Packages (PHP) for distribution to females in selected Schools in Ebonyi State, Nigeria. Each PHP pack contains: 2 pieces of underwear, disposable sanitary pad, soap, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrush. Each female has the products to last them for one year. We have assisted more than 300 females within one year of the project and are overwhelmed with the demand that we are unable to meet.
We are however committed to continuing with this very useful project and intend to expand our reach to assist more females with assistance from those who would want to partner with us or just giving a one off gift.
It costs only £50 per year for a PHP pack that can radically change the life of one menstruating female. If you feel able to assist in whatever capacity, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or click the pink button below to help contribute via PayPal.
To manage menstruation hygienically and with dignity, it is essential that women and girls have access to sanitary products, clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene;
EWAD Founding President
EWAD Community Services and Products Coordinator
Menstrual hygiene matters (2012) by “Sarah House, Thérèse Mahon and Sue Cavill