With so many adolescent girls and women around the world lacking access to the safe water and sanitation they need to manage their menstruation in a hygienic and dignified way, something has to change. And it begins with creating widespread awareness about this important issue.
Raising awareness and starting a dialogue about menstruation
Menstruation is a normal biological process, and a sign of reproductive health, yet in many countries, it is a taboo subject. In fact, in several areas of the developing world, menstruation is still perceived as something shameful and utterly private. Menstrual Hygiene Day, which falls on May 28th, was created to recognize the right of women everywhere to hygienically manage their menstruation—and to get people talking about the challenges women face worldwide.
Easy access to safe water plays an important role in menstrual hygiene
Lack of access to sanitation and safe water disproportionately affects women and girls. Furthermore, managing menstruation in a hygienic way is especially challenging, since it requires that adequate sanitation facilities are readily available. The lack of access to this essential service can negatively affect women’s health, safety and dignity and keep girls out of school on a regular basis preventing their equal education. At One Drop, part of our commitment to providing sustainable access to safe water is about ensuring that women and girls are at the forefront of positive change.
Empowering women to improve the sustainability of water services
We believe in the importance of getting women and girls involved in water and sanitation management. By giving women a voice and empowering them to make a difference, we’re giving them a better chance at improving their reproductive health. We’re also committed to providing private latrines, separate for boys and girls with safe water at schools, which creates an environment conducive to girls attending school.
In addition, we believe in the importance of women’s groups and having female members in influential groups, such as WASH committees. This is crucial for raising awareness, creating a dialogue and engaging entire communities—including the men, since they also have an important role to play in providing safe and hygienic environments for women.
How we created awareness about water and sanitation in Sheohar, India
Using social arts, we got people talking about the specific issues girls face when it comes to sanitation facilities and personal hygiene, and we did this by producing a short film with community members in Sheohar. The film aims to better the lives of school-aged girls by addressing the importance of maintaining schools’ sanitation facilities, which ensure they can properly manage their periods.
The screenings of this film (and others like it) in school settings are paired with workshops and lessons in menstrual hygiene management (MHM). These workshops and lessons create dynamic environments for discussions—in which the characters and issues highlighted in the film are used as reference points—and contribute to the ultimate goal of mobilizing people to change their behaviour.
Working together toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
These goals from the United Nations are about ending poverty, fighting inequality and injustice and tackling climate change. More precisely, Goal 6 aims at ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation, and a specific target involves giving women and girls access to adequate sanitation and hygiene by 2030. To achieve this, the needs of menstruating women cannot be ignored. At One Drop, we stand behind this wholeheartedly and are committed to improving the lives of women and girls by giving them what they need through access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation.