Can Africa Catch Up? The Untold Struggle of Menstrual Hygiene Day

Menstrual Hygiene Day, celebrated on May 28th, aims to raise awareness about the challenges faced by women and girls in Africa who lack access to proper menstrual hygiene products and facilities.

In many African countries, menstrual hygiene is a taboo topic, and many girls and women are forced to use unhygienic methods such as cloth, leaves, or even ash, leading to health problems, social stigma, and absenteeism from school or work.

According to UNICEF, only 12% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa have access to sanitary products, highlighting the urgent need for improved infrastructure, education, and access to affordable menstrual hygiene products to support the health and well-being of women and girls across the continent.

Menstrual Hygiene Day 2024 sheds light on the critical issues surrounding menstrual health in Africa. Access to menstrual products remains a challenge for many women and girls across the continent, hindering their ability to manage their periods with dignity. Lack of affordability and limited availability of these products continue to be major barriers that need urgent attention.

In addition to access to menstrual products, menstrual health education plays a crucial role in breaking the stigma and misinformation surrounding menstruation. Providing comprehensive and accurate information about menstrual health not only empowers women and girls but also helps in promoting better hygiene practices during their periods. Education on menstrual health should be integrated into school curriculums and community programs to reach a wider audience.

To advance in Africa, the focus must shift towards sustainable solutions for menstrual hygiene management, raising awareness about menstrual health, and establishing supportive policies for menstrual health initiatives continent-wide.

Creating a Period Friendly World in Africa requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses both access to menstrual products and menstrual health education. Governments, NGOs, and private sectors need to collaborate to ensure that every woman and girl has access to affordable and quality menstrual products.

By prioritizing menstrual health as a fundamental aspect of women’s well-being, Africa can take a significant step towards achieving gender equality and empowering its female population.

Courtesy Photo: Birungi Charities | World Bank