Girls' and women's right to menstrual health: Evidence and opportunities - a publication by PATH

  • Nancy
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Girls' and women's right to menstrual health: Evidence and opportunities - PATH's recent publication, Outlook on Reproductive Health

Greetings! I am very happy to share with you PATH's recent publication, Outlook on Reproductive Health. This issue is on Girls and Women's Right to Menstrual Health. For over 30 years, PATH has synthesized the latest scientific research and evidence on effective reproductive health programming and made it available through Outlook.

I advocated to have this Outlook issue focus on menstrual health. The WASH sector is doing a good job of researching menstrual hygiene management, yet the issue affects girls and women in many ways including their reproductive health and well-being that do not receive as much attention.

Outlook is targeted at managers, policymakers, health care providers, researchers, and educators around the world. It reaches more than 55,000 readers in some 180 countries.

Best wishes,
Nancy

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  • muench
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Re: Girls' and women's right to menstrual health: Evidence and opportunities - PATH's recent publication, Outlook on Reproductive Health

Thanks for this, Nancy.

I was wondering what the difference between menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and menstrual health is. Nancy's publication gives a nice definition of both terms:

What is menstrual health?

Most efforts to address menstruation in low-resource
settings use the term menstrual hygiene management
(MHM)
. The United Nations Children’s Foundation (UNICEF)
and the World Health Organization define a state of “good”
MHM when girls and women use clean material to absorb or
collect menstrual blood; can change this material in privacy;
and have access to soap, water, and disposal facilities for
used materials (e.g., sanitary pads).6

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
goes further and summarizes systemic factors that facilitate
healthy menstrual management:7
• Accurate and timely knowledge
• Available, safe, and affordable materials
• Informed and comfortable professionals
• Referral and access to health services
• Sanitation and washing facilities
• Positive social norms
• Safe and hygienic disposal
• Advocacy and policy

This issue of Outlook uses the term “menstrual health” to
encompass both the MHM practices and the broader systemic
factors that link menstruation with health, well-being, gender,
education, equity, empowerment, and rights.


Furthermore, Nancy explained it to me by e-mail as follows:

To your question below, the Outlook article clarifies why we refer to it as menstrual health – it’s primarily to recognize that menstruation has broader implications for girls and women than hygiene. The WASH arena is where it has received such important support yet we wanted to acknowledge that it equally touches reproductive health and rights, gender, education, adolescent health, and maternal health. It also requires strategic thinking on supply systems, financing, quality standards, product mix, implementation science, behavior change communication, and advocacy. But yes, all these ways of describing the issue below can be linked to each other.

So once again, this turns out to be a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral topic - which makes it quite fascinating...

Regards,
Elisabeth

P.S. I wish we had better Wikipedia articles on this topic. So far we only have this one on Menstrual Hygiene Day which I've helped to improve:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstrual_hygiene_day

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  • inajurga
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Re: Girls' and women's right to menstrual health: Evidence and opportunities - PATH's recent publication, Outlook on Reproductive Health

HI Elisabeth
thanks for sharing!

also for the discussion around menstrual hygiene or health.
I support the wording shift towards more menstrual health (& hygiene), because that is what we want to aspire. We kept so far hygiene because that was commonly used terminology. While we also had lots feedback by mostly pro-period feminists that hygiene sounds to "negative".

btw: it reminds me of the discussion around ecological sanitation or sustainable sanitation or environmental sanitation we had years ago ;) (but don't want to open that thread...)

For me, as long we mean the same with it, it is fine.
We also discussed internally of renaming Menstrual Hygiene Day to Menstrual Health Day, but that would be a large shift.


The definition for MHM is focused on individual needs, while the systemic look by UNESCO also considers the enabling environment. Not so sure if it is , unless under "social norms" we can also consider the awareness by society and support by family members.

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Re: Girls' and women's right to menstrual health: Evidence and opportunities - PATH's recent publication, Outlook on Reproductive Health

Hi Nancy and Ina and all,

Regarding the conversation we had two years ago about "menstrual health" as a potentially better, broader term than "menstrual hygiene", I just wanted to check what the current thinking about this is now? Are there any new publications that discuss the different terms?

Ina: Any further deliberations within the MH Day team to change the name to "health" instead of "hygiene"?

Nancy, I have now inserted the reference that you had mentioned above into the Wikipedia article here:

The term “menstrual health” is broader than menstrual hygiene. It encompasses both the menstrual hygiene management practices and the broader systemic factors that link menstruation with health, well-being, gender, education, equity, empowerment, and human rights (in particular the human right to water and sanitation).[6]

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstrual_Hygiene_Day#Terminology

Is that good? Is the Outlook publication from 2016 still the best one to quote? By the way, what is its URL? I've added it to the SuSanA library, too.

And you mentioned some publications about menstrual health in India in this forum post:
forum.susana.org/24-menstrual-hygiene-ma...the-boundaries#23316

Could you please also provide the URL there so that we know on which website it can be found and in which context? Thanks.

Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • RachelTTextiles
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Re: Girls' and women's right to menstrual health: Evidence and opportunities - PATH's recent publication, Outlook on Reproductive Health

I completely agree that the word "health" is far better than the limiting word of "Hygiene". It would be great to see this change be accepted internationally as it truly draws in stakeholders from multiple disciplines to consider all the factors related to Menstruation and Menstrual Health

Rachel Starkey | Transformation Textiles
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  • lindiwe
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Re: Reply: Girls'+and+women's+right+to+menstrual+health:+Evidence+and+opportunities+-+PATH's+recent+publication,+Outlook+on+Reproductive+Health

Thank you PATH for sharing am interested if you have any call for proposal on SRHR (Sexual Reproductive Health Rights)?

Regards

Lindiwe
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