Menstrual health: breaking taboos

With the support of P&G, we adapted and incorporated the menstrual management approach to the sanitary repair project, understanding the need to integrate particular issues from a gender perspective into infrastructure works, as well as provide tools and enable access to information.

Habitat for Humanity Argentina and P&G joined forces to work on a subject that is rarely talked about. Through training and delivery of materials, women and menstruating people in the Metropolitan Area of ​​Buenos Aires will be able to have safe and suitable bathrooms for the management of menstrual health.

Around 500 people from the south of the City of Buenos Aires, La Matanza, Pilar, Tigre and Tres de Febrero, will be reached by the awareness campaign so that we start talking about menstruation. In addition, 150 families will receive training through workshops and the necessary materials to improve their bathrooms.

The sanitary kits, which Habitat Argentina has been delivering since the start of the pandemic, were adapted from the new menstrual management approach. The families will have socio-technical support during the installation of the materials. Fit bathrooms are safe bathrooms, bathrooms that protect the health, privacy and well-being of menstruating people and their families.

Hide the normal 
A taboo is what, as a society, we decide to cover, ignore, leave out of the debate. Thus, these issues are relegated to private spheres and as a consequence, people are isolated, full of doubts and fears.

That menstruation, as a physiological fact that affects half of the population, is one of these taboo subjects is as illogical as it is dangerous. From common sense we can understand that, if one out of two people menstruates at some point in her life, it is something normal and natural, however, we see that “that” is not talked about.

The taboo advances in such a way that it even sneaks into science. One example is the effects of COVID vaccines on menstruation. Cases were reported around the world of menstruating people who noticed more bleeding, more frequent cycles or symptoms such as dizziness after taking the vaccine and it was inferred that these were side effects that had not been taken into account in the trial studies. If it had been included in the tests, thousands of menstruating people would have been warned knowing what to expect and thus avoid being alarmed by changes in the body. This case shows us the importance that it is better to talk about certain things.

According to data published by the Ombudsman’s Office of the Province of Buenos Aires, 32% of the people surveyed acknowledged not having received information about menstruation before menstruating. In addition, most of those who received information stated that it was in a conversation with people close to them (69.7%), including direct relatives (50.6%) and friends or acquaintances (19.1%).

Period health 
We understand menstrual health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not just the absence of disease or infirmity. The definition encompasses both aspects of menstrual hygiene management and other factors that link menstruation to health, well-being, gender equality, education, as well as the empowerment of adolescent girls and women and their rights.

Menstrual management not only has health repercussions. Also economic and social. It is not optional but is a mandatory monthly expense. The products used during this period are basic necessities, consumed by more than 12 million menstruating people in a country with a wage gap of 27% in the formal market and 39% in the informal market between men and women.

Being a taboo, during the self-construction of the house, the need to adapt the bathroom to menstrual management is not taken into account. According to UNICEF: “there must be an enabling environment that includes the availability and access to safe water, that bathrooms or latrines meet defined standards and that there is access to materials for menstruation, it is essential to have a decent life and for the realization of many other human rights.

This action is developed with the support of a company like P&G that shows interest in becoming involved in an alliance with Habitat for Humanity Argentina and thus be able to mobilize resources and make visible the rights of menstruating people. It is an opportunity that helps us so that talking about menstruation does not generate discomfort. It is time to break with taboos!

International Menstrual Hygiene Day
Every May 28, the Day of Menstrual Hygiene is commemorated, a day of reflection on the difficulties that menstruating people must face, and, also, a day to normalize this biological process that affects approximately half of the population.

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