With the global theme “No more limits: Empowering women and girls through good menstrual hygiene”, the World Menstrual Hygiene Day was observed in Bangladesh for the first time this year
The government is going to publish a policy guideline on having separate toilets with disposal facilities for girl students in Bangladesh, which has already received the nod from the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec).
Dr Mohammed Jahangir Hossain, director (planning and development) of Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE), made this disclosure while addressing a program organized to mark World Menstrual Hygiene Day in Dhaka.
With the global theme “No more limits: Empowering women and girls through good menstrual hygiene”, the celebration was held in Bangladesh for the first time this year by the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) platform, RedOrange, Unicef, and the Local Government Division (LGD).
Addressing the program, speakers said menstrual hygiene day will help break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential.
On behalf of the MHM platform, Country Director of Water Aid Bangladesh Dr Khairul Islam elaborated on the overall menstrual hygiene situation in Bangladesh.
“A quarter of the total population is adolescent girls who do not have proper knowledge and practice of MHM. Eighty percent cannot use dry menstrual cloth in open sunlight. Forty percent reported missing school during menstruation for three to five days each month. For these reasons, we need to ensure MHM facilities with separate toilets in every school,” he said.
“Only 1% of school toilets have menstrual pad disposal facilities, and only 40% toilets are equipped with water and soap. Since all girls face this problem, menstruation management is very important in schools,” he added.
DSHE Director Mohammed Jahangir Hossain said the government is already working to build separate toilets for girls and boys in every school.
“We now have approved, proper guidelines which will expedite the process,” he said.
“There will be a facilities in every school in rural and urban areas which will not only play a role in ensuring menstrual hygiene management, but also for education on sexual reproduction, gender equality, and health,” he said, adding that a pilot program was under way in 10 schools where counsellors for both girls and boys will be employed.
“The facility will help students by answering questions about anything they are unaware of. We need joint efforts from the ministries of health, women and children, education, and also Local Government Division (LGD) in this regard” he said.
Sheema Sen Gupta, deputy representative of Unicef said: “In order to openly talk about periods, the primary obstacle will be to change the social behaviour about the matter, as issues that had been prevalent before no longer persist. Therefore, it is important for women, religious leaders, and the general people to participate in helping normalize the issue in society. Gender equality must also be established at the same time.”
Mushfiqua Zaman Satiar, senior advisor of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands said Menstrual Hygiene Day raises awareness of the challenges women and girls worldwide face due to their menstruation and highlights solutions that address these challenges, including through the media.
“This day also creates opportunities for advocacy for the integration of MHM into global, national, and local policies, programs, and projects,” said the UNICEF official.
International Menstrual Hygiene Day was celebrated for the first time on May 28, 2014.