Sanitary Pads – “A Necessity, Not a Luxury!” Join AHF to Commemorate Menstrual Hygiene Day!

In Global Advocacy, Global Featured by Fiona Ip

While the world fights an ongoing battle against COVID-19, it’s vital on Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) that we remember that periods do not stop for pandemics! AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), invites you to join us on MH Day under our “A Necessity, Not a Luxury!” theme as we launch a campaign to distribute 5 million sanitary pads over the next year to women and girls in need to keep them healthy and in school!

While 1.8 billion girls, women, transgender men and non-binary people of reproductive age menstruate periodically, millions are denied the right to manage their monthly menstrual cycle in a dignified, healthy way. Poor menstrual hygiene management restricts the mobility, freedom and choices of young women and girls everywhere; it affects attendance and participation in school and community life and further compromises their safety, causing stress and anxiety.

“Distributing over five million sanitary pads to adolescent girls and women in need is important for multiple reasons. We’re helping who we can, but we’re also raising our voices and standing with the estimated 500 million women and girls that do not have access to adequate menstruation hygiene management facilities,” said AHF Africa Bureau Chief Dr. Penninah Iutung. “Access to sanitary pads should be considered a necessity, not a luxury—since the lack of access means unmet menstrual health and hygiene needs, which may lead to stigma, harassment, and social exclusion, particularly for adolescent girls and young women.

MH Day is recognized worldwide on May 28 and was first launched by advocates in 2014 to highlight the importance of menstrual hygiene management education that empowers girls to fully participate in society and live a healthy, self-determined life.

“I grew up in a culture where periods are taboo, and girls and women are seen as ‘unclean,’” said AHF Deputy Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy Loretta Wong. “AHF is launching this campaign to distribute five million sanitary pads to help combat that stigma that still exists today. Many women and girls also can’t afford them or have inadequate access to menstrual hygiene products, which are crucial since girls can miss twenty percent or more of each school year due to their menstrual cycle – widening the already vast, unequal education gap between girls and their male counterparts.”

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