International Menstrual Hygiene Day

Did you know that 500 million girls lack sanitary products, safe toilets and showers when they have their period? They feel dirty, ashamed and dare not go to school or work.

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Every girl and women deserves to handle their menstruation in a dignified way

May 28th is the international day for menstrual hygiene where we focus on the right for women and girls to handle their menstruation in a dignified way.

Our colleague Åshild Skare has just come back to Norway after travelling to Tigray and Gambella in Ethiopia where she got a close look at what it is like to have menstruation in war and conflict. She explains how it is like not to have access to sanitary pads, toilets or shower.

 - It hurts to hear women that are fleeing tell how unworthy it is to have menstruation. Often, they do not have sanitary pads, and if they do, they may have to change in a tent with other family members or go into the woods where they risk being assaulted, says Åshild Skare who is a WASH advisor in NCA.

She continues to say that "Menstruation does not stop in crises. In a crisis, it is extra challenging for women and girls to handle menstruation in a safe and dignified way. Nevertheless, this is often overlooked or downgraded when a crisis occurs".

A report from UNESCO shows that one out of ten girls south of the Sahara is absent from school when they have their period. This is estimated to make up as much as twenty percent of a school year.

As many as a third of the world's schools lack safe toilets, making it very difficult for girls to manage their period at school.

Girls and women in vulnerable situations, such as war, conflict, and poverty, often have to resort to negative survival mechanisms, such as selling sex in order to buy necessary things such as sanitary pads. 


A woman from Malawi showing her homemade sanitary pad.​ Photo by ​Håvard Bjelland.

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Handmade sanitary pads made by women in Ethiopia, as part of the Pilot project "Enhance Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) practice of Refugees and Host community women's Business Enterprises" in Ethiopia Gambella. Photo by Bekalu Dagne Agize.

We have made a digital story in Norwegian about the reality many women and girls are facing when handling their menstrual period.  Every women and girl should be able to handle their menstruation in a dignified way!