Menstruation does not pause for a pandemic

As the world commemorates Menstrual Hygiene Day, it is imperative that we emphasize the importance of continuing menstrual hygiene awareness and support for women and girls during COVID-19, especially for those living in poverty, and those in quarantine and isolation centers.

A pandemic such as COVID-19 doesn’t stop activities to support the basic menstrual hygiene needs of women and girls, including those who are on the frontlines of the pandemic.

Given the multiple challenges that women and adolescent girls face, it is evident that promoting menstrual hygiene management is not only a health and sanitation matter, it is also a crucial step towards safeguarding the dignity, integrity and overall life opportunities for women and girls.

While many people still doubt the seriousness of the issue, for countless girls and women, sanitary pads are an unaffordable ‘luxury’ especially during this crisis.

A 2020 UNICEF survey indicates that 18 percent of young girls miss school during menstruation. Nearly half of them cited pain as the reason and a quarter cited fear of leaking. The report also paints a grim picture of young girls having difficulties talking to their teachers about menstruation challenges at school.

It is high time the government and relevant organizations called for an end to stigma and shame and for more support for vulnerable women and girls in the form of menstrual pads, especially during COVID-19.