Menstruation is an integral and normal part of human life, indeed of human existence. According to data from the 2015 National Population Census, the proportion of females to males as per the national population remains high with about 18,124,684 people being women. 24.5% of these were women adolescents between 10-19 years (4,440,547).
Most of these women and girls will menstruate each month between two and seven days thus equating to around 3000 days of menstruation in an average woman’s lifetime.
According to a study done by UNICEF in 2013, 1 in 10 schoolgirls in Africa miss school or drop out completely due to lack of access to menstrual materials and other sanitary products.
During menstruation, girls and women face both practical and strategic gender problems. These have negative impacts on their personal lives and development opportunities; restrictions on work and from places of worship, increased fears, tensions and early marriages.
Menstruation and menstrual practices are still clouded by taboos and socio-cultural restrictions resulting in women and adolescent girls remaining ignorant of the scientific facts and hygienic health practices, which sometimes result in adverse health outcomes such as infections and low self-esteem among others.
Menstrual hygiene is fundamental to the dignity and wellbeing of every woman and girl. It is an important part of the basic hygiene, sanitation and reproductive health services to which they have a right to.
Young women and girls, especially in developing countries, often lack information about good menstrual hygienic practices such as the use of sanitary pads, menstrual cups and adequate washing of the genital areas which are essential during the menstruation period.
Poor menstrual hygienic practices increase susceptibility to reproductive health-related problems to which these young girls and women are vulnerable to.
All in all, Menstruation being a gateway for girls to adulthood is such a beautiful thing every girl growing up wants to achieve. However, every good thing comes with responsibility and if not managed well it can lead to suffering
Some organizations are involved in the struggle of menstrual hygiene by creating awareness about menstruation and also giving out menstrual hygiene products in both urban and rural areas of Uganda.
However, more efforts are still needed to create an enabling environment to enhance the confidence of females by providing them with hygienic-sanitary wear, adequate water supply and private space at home and school to manage their menstrual health. This can be done by speaking up openly about menstruation both in our communities and schools in order to break the silence, the myths and misconceptions on menstruation.
Writer: Rose Amahoro, SRHR Advocate.