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Celebrating World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2024: A Step Towards a #PeriodFriendlyWorld

May 28th symbolises the average 28-day menstrual cycle and the typical five-day duration of menstruation, reinforcing the importance of the cause it champions. This year, the theme for World Menstrual Hygiene Day is #PeriodFriendlyWorld.

The Parallel Lives Network has been collaborating with De Montfort University Global Health MSc students over the past three years to develop and deliver Period Poverty Train the Trainer programmes in the UK and Nigeria. This initiative has successfully disseminated awareness and vital information to over 1,000 young people across Nigeria and the UK.

Philomena Omoregie-Osagie, MPH, MSc Global Health Graduate, PhD Researcher took part in the very first session. She said, “I have been a trained trainer on Menstrual Hygiene through the Parallel Lives Network Organisation since July 2022. Since then, I have trained over 40 young people in the United Kingdom and Nigeria who are making waves in normalising the conversation on period poverty, targeting hard-to-reach communities. Also, I have trained four Civil Society Organisations in Awka Ibom State, Nigeria, who drive the initiative across the thirty-one local government areas of their coverage by contributing to raising awareness, educating people on period and distributing period products. I’m so happy that over 1,000 young girls, women and young boys have been reached in the last two years with menstrual hygiene education”.

Kathleen Nthakomwa-Cassidy, Programme Leader DMU MSc Global Health said, “Well done everyone involved. This is such an important issue which intersects with many of the UN SDGs and impacts on health and wellbeing around the world. Sustainable and bottom up issues start with education and capacity building and this work is impactful and essential to addressing inequalities and inequities to work towards social justice.”

In addition, we have been working in partnership with Leicester-based Bear Earth CIC, an organisation dedicated to supporting period poverty reduction projects in Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Nkoyo Lynn Majebi, DMU Global Health MSc Graduate (Year 2) said, “Menstrual Hygiene Day, a day dedicated to breaking the silence, raising awareness, and changing the negative social norms surrounding menstruation. This day is more than just an observance; it is a powerful reminder of the need for education, empathy, and action.

Menstruation is a natural and essential part of life for millions of girls and women around the world. Yet, it is often shrouded in stigma and taboo, leading to misinformation, shame, and discrimination. Many girls miss school due to a lack of access to proper menstrual products and facilities, which in turn affects their education and future opportunities. This is not just a health issue; it is a human rights issue.

On Menstrual Hygiene Day, we reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that every girl and woman can manage her menstruation with dignity. This means providing accurate information, affordable and safe menstrual products, and adequate sanitation facilities. It means educating both girls and boys, men and women, about menstruation to foster a culture of support and understanding.

Let us also celebrate the progress we have made. More communities are talking openly about menstruation. More schools are including menstrual hygiene education in their curriculums. More organizations and governments are recognizing the importance of menstrual health management. These are significant steps forward, but our work is not done.

Today, let us pledge to continue our efforts. Let us work towards a world where no girl has to choose between her education and her period, where no woman feels ashamed of her natural body, and where menstrual health is recognized as a critical aspect of public health and gender equality.

Together, we can break the silence. Together, we can change the story. Together, we can ensure that menstruation is not a barrier, but a normal and celebrated part of life.”

Menstrual Hygiene Day, which began in 2014 with just 155 partners and 89 pieces of media coverage, has grown into a global movement advocating for a #PeriodFriendlyWorld. In 2023, more than 1,000 MH Day partner organisations, individuals, influencers, and the media contributed to the largest global conversation to date. Collectively, we reached over 705 million people, significantly challenging taboos and stigma surrounding menstruation.

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