Championing Menstrual Hygiene Management at Women Deliver 2016

Date: 1st June 2016

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“MHM, SDGs and the Private Sector” – Women Deliver side event co-hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, WSSCC, and SCA. Credit: WSSCC/Anthony Dedouche

WSSCC participated in the Women Deliver 2016 Global Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark from 16-19 May, actively promoting menstrual hygiene management (MHM). The Council facilitated MHM training sessions involving 81 women from more than 25 countries. WSSCC also co-hosted a session on MHM, the Sustainable Development Goals and the private sector with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, and the hygiene company SCA.

WSSCC’s engagement at Women Deliver is part of an increasing effort to ensure that water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is seen as an entry point to many other development agendas, particularly linked to women and girls.

Hosted by the NGO Women Deliver, the conference gathered more than 5,000 participants. The event focused on how to achieve the biggest impact for girls and women by emphasizing health, rights, gender equality, education and economic empowerment.

Speakers included the world’s leading voices from the fields of family planning, maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, economics, development, youth, advocacy and faith. See the full list of speakers

WSSCC participated in the recent conference as a follow-up to Women Deliver 2013, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Council was able to engage with partners and members in order to advocate for and reinforce common messaging on WASH, with special attention paid to the sanitation and hygiene needs of women and girls. The topic of MHM was very present at the conference this year, compared to 2013 where it was largely absent. This increased visibility is owed largely to support from a range of WASH stakeholders and organizations including Plan International, Simavi, WASH United, WaterAid, WSSCC, national NGOs and others who were present at the conference.

Promoting a holistic approach to MHM: interactive training sessions

WSSCC facilitated four MHM training sessions in its MHM tent. The objective of these sessions was to give participants an idea of how WSSCC works on MHM through a holistic approach consisting of three pillars: Breaking the Silence, Managing Menstruation Hygienically and Safe Reuse and Disposal.

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At the MHM training sessions, conference participants learned about WSSCC’s holistic menstrual hygiene management (MHM) approach consisting of three pillars: Breaking the Silence, Managing Menstruation Hygienically and Safe Reuse and Disposal. Credit: WSSCC/Anthony Dedouche

Eighty-one women from more than 25 countries participated in these sessions. Many worked for international agencies and civil society organizations, but there were also midwives, researchers, students and social entrepreneurs. Bilateral training sessions were also held outside the tent, which engaged men. Participants learned how to use the WSSCC flipbook and menstrual wheel to explain the physical changes that girls and boys experience during adolescence and the science behind the menstrual flow. They also had an opportunity to see a range of sanitary materials, both recyclable and disposable, and learn how to manage menstruation hygienically and discuss different disposal options. The honest and open sharing and exchange of experiences helped to clarify doubts and create a common bond.

Read more about the methodology behind the training sessions.

MHM, the SDGs and the private sector

WSSCC co-hosted a cross-cutting session with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, and private sector hygiene company SCA entitled ‘Menstrual Hygiene Management, SDGs and the Private Sector’. The session highlighted the importance of breaking taboos around MHM and fighting stigma through evidence-based approaches to unlock multiple benefits for women and girls. The event also promoted detailed discussions on the roles and responsibilities everyone has for women and girls everywhere, regardless of sector, occupation or geography.

The session gathered experts from WASH, human rights, education, health and the private sector to share lessons and successes in policy and practice, with a specific focus on how multi-sectoral partnerships can collaborate to achieve the SDGs.

Key speakers included: Lambert Grijns, Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights & HIV/AIDS, The Netherlands; Archana Patkar, Programme Manager, WSSCC; Jacqueline Matoro, Health Representative, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Tanzania; Hilda Alberda, Senior Programme Officer, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Simavi; and Gabriella Ekelund, Vice President, Corporate Brand Communications, SCA. The session was moderated by Helen Morgan of Devex.

Read more about the session.

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