25 May 2018

Eritrea: Breaking the Silence On Menstruation

Photo: Masixole Feni/GroundUp
May girls routinely skip up to a week of school every month because they don't have sanitary pads.(file photo).
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Menstrual Hygiene day on May 28th aims to help break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential. It supports and promotes the integration of MHM into global, national and local policies, programmes and projects.

In this interview Yirgalem Solomon (WASH Specialist, UNICEF) talks about a recent study on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in Eritrean middle schools, 'Breaking the Silence on Menstruation', that has led to a pilot programme promoting open dialogue on menstruation to break the taboo and help the girls address the many challenges they face.

Amongst many things, this study and pilot has encouraged school directors and teachers to make changes in schools including provision of sanitary products for girls. It has also led to the Eritrean Ministry of Health training approximately 200 health workers in six regions in MHM to provide awareness raising at the community level.

This study was part of the UNICEF's global project, 'WASH in Schools for Girls: Advocacy and Capacity Building for MHM through WASH in Schools Programmes', (WinS4Girls) in 14 countries and was funded by the Government of Canada. It was carried out by the Eritrean Ministry of Education together with the Ministry of Health, National Union of Eritrean Women and UNICEF.

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