Menstrual management is not a secret

Increasing confidence and knowledge in adolescent youth

02 April 2024
Students learning about menstrual hygiene.

When the Puntland Minority Women Development Organization (PMWDO) went to the Godod School in the Mudug region of Somalia to provide a session on menstrual hygiene management, the students found it strange because they had never talked about this subject in the open, even though around 1.8 billion people across the world menstruate each month. “During the session, I got to understand how to use reusable sanitary pads,” says Nafiso, a Secondary student. “One of the most important things I have understood is that perfume should not be used on the pads. Also, we learned how to wash the reusable sanitary pads. I am sure I will use them because sometimes we have challenges at home to have money to buy a pad. To me, getting this reusable one is a lifesaver.”

Issues around menstruating are vast and include gender inequality, discrimination, taboos, poverty and lack of services like toilets and sanitary products. This can be distressing for females and cause a loss in education and participation in daily activities.

“The session has helped me to understand how I can use the reusable sanitary pad," Asha stated. “I first saw this reusable pad in another town when some people came and distributed it to us, but they didn’t give us any information. Now with this session, I understand how to use them. The first time I was given the pad, I used it and threw it away, since I didn’t know I had to wash it. Also, it has been helpful to understand about menstruation.”

Menstrual health and hygiene management classes can help protect dignity, improve confidence, and strengthen sexual and reproductive health.

Thanks to funding from the Kingdom of Netherlands (DGIS), students like Nafiso have enhanced water, sanitation and hygiene services at school so that they can properly manage their monthly periods and remain in class. Improved access to water is being implemented in Harfo and Galdogob districts of Puntland, Somalia, through this UNICEF-supported, system strengthening and community engagement programme.

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