WASH Library title: Menstrual hygiene and management in developing countries
Across the developing world, the lack of appropriate and adequate sanitation facilities prevents girls from attending school, particularly when they are menstruating. Of the 113 million children currently not enrolled in school worldwide, 60% are girls.
The literature on gender mainstreaming in the water & sanitation sector is silent on menstrual management, adequacy of water for washing and bathing, availability of hygienic materials and solid waste management of disposables. Initiatives in this area are restricted to very small pilots, with poor follow-up and poor dissemination of results. Although poor sanitation is correlated with absenteeism and drop-out of girls in developing countries, efforts in school sanitation to address this issue have ignored menstrual management in latrine design and construction. Minimal effort has gone into production and social marketing of low-cost napkins, reusable materials, research into bio-degradables, etc. Wider aspects of the issue, such as privacy, water availability and awareness-raising amongst boys and men remain largely unexplored by development initiatives.
This paper collates the findings from a serious effort to take stock of the current thinking, practices, barriers, investments and action linked to menstrual hygiene management. It is based on wide electronic consultation and secondary desk review with key stakeholders in the area of health, hygiene, water and sanitation and women’s rights and incorporates the knowledge and experience from more than a decade of first-hand experience in water, sanitation and reproductive health in developing countries. The overall objective of this paper was to compile a brief overview of initiatives in menstrual management as a precursor to action.