Menstrual Hygiene Day serves as an important reminder that millions of people globally are prevented from achieving their full potential, simply because they menstruate.

While the menstrual movement now goes beyond hygiene management alone to incorporate health, rights and justice, sanitation facilities and menstrual products are necessary components of a comprehensive and holistic package of menstrual needs. Yet stigma, taboos, poor education, resource constraints and weak policies hinder the ability of those who menstruate to access good quality menstrual products, suitable toilet facilities and the education they need to manage their period safely, effectively and with dignity.

The Menstrual Hygiene Day movement focuses this year on the theme ‘Together for a #PeriodFriendlyWorld’. It calls for the eradication of stigma and taboos and the unrestricted access to period-friendly toilets, products and education for everyone who menstruates. The campaign highlights that we can have greater impact when we take a cross-sectoral approach and unite researchers, policymakers, non-governmental organisations, activists, private sector companies and individuals to work together.

Through the MeJARa project we aim to contribute towards creating a #PeriodFriendlyWorld by working in partnership with adolescent girls, their families, and the wider community in Nepal and Guatemala to develop a comprehensive intervention to address menstrual injustice. This includes gaining a better understanding of the causes and consequences of different menstrual practices and taboos and learning what matters most to girls.

Members of our team are marking Menstrual Hygiene Day by attending the Menstruation Research Network Conference in Liverpool to connect with researchers, policymakers and practitioners working on inclusive menstruation. We are then flying to Nepal to meet our colleagues at the Center for Research on Environment Health and Population Activities (CREHPA), disseminate recent findings to our stakeholders and advisory committees, and conduct interviews with policymakers. We recognise that we need to work together to have meaningful and sustainable impact and incorporate all elements of menstruation, not just hygiene, to ensure that adolescent girls can achieve the right to a good period.

Written by:

Josephine Mcallister