The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme and UN Population Fund (UNFPA) are working together to fight menstrual inequity, taboos, stigma and the lack of education on menstrual hygiene management.
Menstruation affects girls and women every month. Inadequate information on menstrual hygiene management and lack of access to related products expose girls and women, particularly those with limited resources, to discomfort and stigmatization.
Poor menstrual health and hygiene undercuts fundamental rights – including the right to work and go to school – for women, girls and people who menstruate. It worsens social and economic inequalities. Insufficient resources to manage menstruation, as well as patterns of exclusion and shame, undermine human dignity. Gender inequality, extreme poverty, humanitarian crises and harmful traditions can amplify deprivation and stigma. --UNFPA on the occasion of Menstrual Hygiene Day
Five UN Volunteers serving with UNFPA in Bolivia implemented a pilot activity to support menstrual health and hygiene among adolescent girls and women in La Paz. They received a donation of reusable sanitary pads (called Hannah Pads) from G&E HealthCare.
The pilot activity educated 70 girls and women on key concepts, including menstruation and menstrual hygiene management, and provided information on reusable sanitary pads, including a demonstration on how to effectively utilize them. The promotion of sustainable menstrual products is also a means of reducing costs.
Mina Lee is one of the UN Volunteers who contributed to the success of this pilot activity.
As volunteers, we were able to make a difference in the lives of Bolivian girls and women by promoting their dignity, health and well-being. We believe that even small-scale actions can have a significant impact, and we encourage others to join us in promoting menstrual health and hygiene and supporting women and girls around the world. --Mina Lee, UN Volunteer Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist with UNFPA, Bolivia
Each participant was given a Hannah Pad 5-pack kit (consisting of 1 small, 2 medium and 2 overnight pads), as well as information leaflets, pouches, bags and soap for proper handling of the pads.
According to a post-event survey, the pilot activity was a success with a satisfaction rating of 87.3 per cent from the beneficiaries. Furthermore, 90 per cent of these were keen to recommend it to their acquaintances and friends. These findings demonstrate that reusable pads are highly acceptable to girls and women in La Paz and that there’s a need for continuous menstrual health education.
Mina Lee, Cristina Pinto Espinoza, Mayda Adriana Lopez Diaz, Sonia Auca Pajari and Mayra Daniela Ajalla Segovia, are the five UN Volunteers involved in this pilot. Like them, over 80 professionals are currently serving as UN Volunteers with UNFPA in Latin America and the Caribbean, contributing to leaving no one behind.
This article was written with the kind support of Mina Lee, a UN Volunteer Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist serving with UNFPA in Bolivia.