Menstrual poverty in North Macedonia

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  • I'm Natasha Dokovska, program director in Journalists for Human Rights from North Macedonia. As organisation we work on equitable access to WaSH and WSSP, as well as access to water as human rights
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Menstrual poverty in North Macedonia

I want to share with you our research about menstrual poverty in North Macedonia.

Journalists for Human Rights presented the results of the research done from April 3 to May 20 last year, within the project WOMEN 2030 conducted an anonymous research with 800 respondents, out of which 480 women from the rural environment and 320 from the urban environment, aged 16 – 45 years.

From the results obtained from the research it can be concluded that we have a problem with the management of menstrual hygiene (MHM), which is reflected in the data that 90% of the students in rural areas in Macedonia are absent from school for 4 to 5 days during the month when they have a monthly cycle, while 75% of the students in the urban areas are missing 2 to 3 days during the month. The reason for this is inadequate conditions for managing menstrual hygiene at school/workplace and the high cost of menstrual protection products.

Regarding the question of whether they have conditions for maintaining menstrual hygiene at work/school, 90% of the respondents  answered negatively, and 25% answered that they work outdoors and have no access to toilets.  To the question “What are the hygienic means of managing menstrual hygiene?”, 80% said they use hygienic pads, 5% use tampons, while 15% said they do not use any hygienic means during the monthly cycle (they manage textile only -decks or toilet paper/newspapers). For menstrual cups, only three respondents know, but no one used it, and 63% of women answered that they would use a hygienic lid for more use. 70% of the respondents are not aware of the pollution caused by hygienic waste. Just how much to illustrate the scale, in Macedonia about 6-6,500,000 pads/tampons are used per month, and their age of decomposition is 500 years.

The data from the survey did motivate us to deliver requests to the ministries and the business sector to alleviate menstrual poverty. We ask:
– Establishment of the Fund to End Menstrual Poverty !!!
– To reduce the tax rate for this type of products from 18 to 5%. Menstrual products are not luxury goods !!!
– The management of menstrual hygiene should be included in gender budgeting (all public institutions/schools must provide an adequate toilet for dignified management of the same). That means at least one toilet meets the standards –  water, toilet paper and waste selection boxes.
– Benefits for companies that would engage in the production and sale of environmentally safe products for managing menstrual hygiene

In order to establish a Foundation for the eradication of menstrual poverty, the company Jelovica, the manufacturer of the menstrual pads “Ona” and “Ona is free” donated packages of pads to be given in Euro Human International, SOS Children’s Village, Children’s Center Street and Crisis Center “Hope” …
the link of research is here  http://jhrmk.org/index.php/2019/05/13/protsenka-za-menstrualnata-siromashtija-vo-makedonija/?lang=en
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