Een doorbraak: Menstruele gezondheid op wereldwijde agenda WHO

A breakthrough: Menstrual health on WHO global agenda

Menstrual health was not on the agenda of the International Conference on Population and Development or in the Millennium Declaration. It is also not explicitly mentioned in the Sustainable Development Goals.

It was finally placed on the global agendas for health, education, human rights and gender equality/equity in a WHO statement last June 22, 2022. Yes!! The reason was messages from local workers and activists from Africa. These messages were mainly about women and girls' experiences of shame and embarrassment. This also included the obstacles they encounter when they have their period because they do not have the means to deal with menstruation.

The fact that this is happening now can have positive consequences for their life chances, including their right to education, work, water and sanitation.

world health organization

who calls for menstrual health to be recognized and addressed as a health and human rights issue:

WHO calls for three actions.

First, to frame menstruation as a health problem, not a hygiene problem – a health problem with physical, psychological and social dimensions. It is also an issue that needs to be addressed in a life-course perspective – from pre-menarche to post-menopause.

Second, to recognize that menstrual health means that everyone who menstruates has access to information and education about it. But also to the menstrual products they need such as water, sanitation and empathetic care when necessary. This also includes living, studying and working in an environment where menstruation is experienced as positive and healthy; and to participate fully in work and social activities.

Third, to ensure that these activities are included in the relevant sectoral work plans and budgets. Performance must be measured.

WHO is committed to encouraging health policy makers and program managers to promote the rights of all who menstruate. In doing so, they hope to meet their comprehensive menstrual health needs. WHO is also committed to breaking the silence and stigma associated with menstruation. They do this by making schools, health institutions and other workplaces (including WHO workplaces) menstruation proof.

governments are starting to act, but they need to do much more.

world health organization

A growing number of governments are taking action. Some governments have eliminated taxes on menstrual products. Others have focused on the challenges students face when they need menstrual products. Still other countries have regulations to provide menstrual products to groups in difficult circumstances, for example the homeless or prisoners.

Finally, some countries have introduced laws and policies for medical leave when a person experiences symptoms related to menstruation.

WHO a breakthrough

These are mostly helpful steps, but governments can and should do more than improve access to menstrual products. They must support schools, workplaces and public institutions to manage menstruation in comfort and dignity. More importantly, they need to normalize menstruation and break the silence surrounding it.

An important step has been taken, and now on!!

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