Gender inequality, cultural taboos and poverty can cause menstrual health needs to go unmet.
Every month, 1.8 billion people across the world menstruate. Millions of these girls, women, transgender men and non-binary persons are unable to manage their menstrual cycle in a dignified, healthy way.
The onset of menstruation means a new phase – and new vulnerabilities – in the lives of adolescents. Yet, many adolescent girls face stigma, harassment and social exclusion during menstruation. Transgender men and non-binary persons also face discrimination due to their gender identity, depriving them of access to the materials and facilities they need.
Gender inequality, discriminatory social norms, cultural taboos, poverty and lack of basic services like toilets and sanitary products can all cause menstrual health and hygiene needs to go unmet.
This has far-reaching consequences for millions of people. It restricts their mobility and personal choices. It affects attendance in school and participation in community life. And it compromises their safety, causing additional stress and anxiety. These challenges are particularly acute in humanitarian crises.
Menstrual health and hygiene interventions can help overcome these obstacles. Not only do they fulfil the unmet demand for menstrual hygiene products; they also protect dignity, build confidence, and strengthen sexual and reproductive health, particularly among adolescents.
UNICEF is a global leader in menstrual health and hygiene activities through development and humanitarian programmes across the world.
We commit to building programmes that increase confidence, knowledge, and skills – and improve access to materials and facilities – for adolescent girls, women, transgender and non-binary individuals to manage their menstruation safely and with dignity.
We work in four key areas for improved menstrual health and hygiene:
- Social support
- Knowledge and skills
- Facilities and services
- Access to absorbent materials and supportive supplies
UNICEF primarily supports governments in building national strategies across sectors, like health and education, that account for menstrual health and hygiene. Our programmes are developed to reinforce gender equality.
We recognize and implement special efforts to reach and co-design solutions with girls with disabilities, girls from minority groups, and transgender and non-binary menstruators.
By strengthening confidence and negotiation skills, menstrual health and hygiene programmes can help people who menstruate overcome obstacles to their health, freedom and development.