By MH Hub Co-founder, Milena Bacalja Perianes

Once a year menstruation takes the world stage with a bang, and that day is today, Menstrual Health & Hygiene Day.

 

Whilst many organisations, companies, and advocates work tirelessly every day of the year to ensure women, girls, and those who menstruate are able to do so with dignity and confidence, today we come together as a community to celebrate our successes, reflect on the challenges we have experienced, and prepare ourselves for the battles yet to come.

Over the course of the year menstruation has continued to bleed in to the mainstream, with most recently the new addition to the British Royal family the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle becoming a global champion of menstrual health! Her new position provides a platform to shed light on the ways in which menstruation is core to women, girls, and those who menstruate health and development, elevating a once taboo issue on to the global stage.

With incredible advances in technology, products, and in society more generally there is much to be thankful for in 2018. Yet, work remains to be done.

We need to continue working together to bridge geographic, thematic, and sectoral barriers to advance menstrual health.

 

We need to raise the profile of menstruation further by amplifying each other’s voices. We need to work to collectively end menstrual stigma because we remain definitively stronger together.

More than ever, we need to remember that menstruation is more than just a biological function. Around the world it is accompanied by a variety of socio-cultural practices which produce, govern, and restrict bodies. Through menstruation, girls first come to understand the limitations of their body, and in many respects their place in society. In our attempts to close the gender gap, we must acknowledge the critical role that menstrual health plays in holding women, girls, and those who menstruate back.

We will hear a lot today about the impact of menstruation on women and girls lives. It is important that we speak about the real-life challenges faced by the 334 million women and girls around the world who currently menstruate. But it is also important that we acknowledge the often forgotten, and unseen experiences of those whose bodies and identities don’t fit the binary mould.

Menstruation has many faces, many meanings, and many experiences.

 

Today, of all days, let us celebrate the diversity of our experiences and bodies, and unite as we call for no more limits, and the ability of all people to menstruate with dignity and freedom.

 

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Milena Bacalja Perianes is the Co-Founder and Deputy Director of the Menstrual Health Hub. She is a feminist entrepreneur, gender researcher, and Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights expert. She has worked around the world to design and implement women-focused programmes including working with the UN, World, International AIDS Society and Simavi.