Giving Compass’ Take:
• Cristina Ljungberg and Sue Coates explain why it is important to invest in menstrual health specifically, even though it overlaps with many other issues, and offer five actions that can advance the field.
• How do menstrual health education, rights, and access intersect with other issue areas where you focus your philanthropic work? Are you ready to advance menstrual health?
• Read about menstrual health solutions in India.
Though menstruation is a natural part of life for more than half the world’s population, half a billion girls and women still lack the support they need to manage their periods safely and confidently. The costs to women, their families, and society are enormous and entirely unsustainable, even as access to information about menstruation, to sanitary menstrual products, and to facilities where menstruation can be managed in privacy, are instrumental to success in school and at work. The availability of menstrual care materials alone has been found to reduce absenteeism from work by 21 percent, while increasing school participation and improving learning outcomes. And long-standing stigmas and taboos around menstruation are found even in countries that have attempted to address this issue with policies dedicated to menstrual health and hygiene.
However, because it cuts across distinct sectors—health, education, gender equality, water hygiene and sanitation (WASH), and environmental conservation—menstrual health and hygiene (MHH) is a much more complex and difficult public health issue than many realize. Wide-scale programming can be particularly difficult to formulate, since public health interventions rarely fit neatly into any one of these sectors. As a result, it may be tempting for organizations to simplify their statements and products and to offer a silver bullet for what is actually a much more multifaceted and complicated problem.
Building on their combined decades of experience working for women’s health and rights, The Case for Her and WSSCC recommend the five following actions to advance the field of MHH:
- Set the scene for success by investing in menstrual education at a young age, for all genders.
- Prioritize the development and use of standardized tools to monitor and evaluate existing programs and broaden the evidence base.
- Encourage and invest in collective impact initiatives and make financing cross-sectoral.
- A single intervention is not enough to create lasting change. Design and finance water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure that considers the needs of menstruators.
- Encourage the private sector to step up and commit to addressing some gaps in funding and make advances in product innovation and address distribution challenges.
Read the full article about investing in menstrual health by Cristina Ljungberg and Sue Coates at Stanford Social Innovation Review.
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