Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are based on the right and the ability of all individuals to decide over their own bodies, and to live healthy and productive lives. Addressing SRHR is the key element in ensuring sustainable development in Menstrual Hygiene Management. Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is part of the overall efforts within SRHR and has an impact on development as it has implications on the life of girls and women related to health, education, work mobility and security. The lack of proper sanitation facilities and affordable hygiene materials for the use by adolescent girls and women at home, at school and at workplaces, affects their health, their potential to access education, employment, overall safety and quality of life. Many girls and women in low- and middle income countries face various barriers in managing menstruation. Special attention must be given to women and girls in vulnerable situations, and especially to women and girls who have been displaced or affected by emergencies. A multi-sectorial approach in programming on MHM in the developing and promotion of positive attitudes towards MHM is critical if transformative change is to be realised.
MHM is a necessity and yet it is a challenging issue for the girl child. Girls need to receive information on practical ways of managing menses in a girl friendly environment and hygienic way. Formal menstruation education is grossly inadequate in most schools and communities in Zimbabwe although some education is provided informally in some schools, particularly private schools. Teachers and mothers were identified as the main sources of information on MHM. However, information on MHM given by mothers can sometimes be incomplete and incorrect, and is usually based on cultural myths, personal experiences and views, which may result in false perceptions and unsafe practices regarding menstruation. It is evident from the results that MHM cannot be tackled effectively without the active involvement of men. Men control resources and make decisions on how these are spent; their involvement would ensure that MHM is adequately catered for in families. Community and religious leaders also have an important role to play especially in the demystification of beliefs and practices that might have a negative bearing on the promotion of MHM. The gender unfriendly school culture and infrastructure, and the lack of adequate menstrual protection alternatives and/or clean, safe and private sanitation facilities for girls, undermine their right of privacy, health and education.
This fight needs everyone to ensure that there is free access to sanitary wear in all spaces especially in low-income countries