Today many women and girls are excluded from participating due to poor access to menstrual health products, caused by a lack of education, persisting taboos and stigma, limited access to hygienic menstrual products and poor sanitation infrastructure which undermines their access to educational opportunities, health and overall social status of women and girls around the world. As a result, millions of women and girls are prevented from reaching their full potential.
The overarching goal of this event is to discuss and highlight good practices that ensure diversity by safeguarding that no one is held back because they menstruate. It will showcase examples to strengthen meaningful participation by everyone that aims to combat Period Poverty, enhance the Sustainable Development Goals and the EU Gender Action Plan (GAP III).
- the EU's international role | international cooperation
- InfoPoint and Webex Meetings
- International Partnerships InfoPoint
Millions of women and girls around the world are stigmatized, excluded and discriminated against simply because they menstruate. Because of a natural bodily function women and girls continue to be prevented from getting an education, earning an income, and fully and equally participating in everyday life. This is unacceptable.
The EU gender action plan for 2021–2025 (GAP III) calls for a gender-equal world and is complementary to the LGBTIQ equality strategy for 2020-2025. It will scale up the EU contribution to reach SDG 5 in all EU internal and external policy areas and across the 2030 Agenda. GAP III focuses on six key areas of engagement and in order to fulfill all these areas, women and girls need to have easy and cheap access to sanitation products and be educated about their menstrual health, there is also ample opportunity to integrate distribution of menstrual cups, and menstrual panties or education in all of the above-mentioned areas.
Misinformation and taboos surrounding menstruation reinforce discrimination and subject women and girls to further risk of marginalization and violence. Challenging prevailing negative social norms, perceptions and harmful practices around menstruation is fundamental in ensuring that adolescent girls continue their education, and that women and girls can fulfill their potential. To address this the EU advocates for increased involvement of boys and men in addressing the root causes of gender inequality, including when related to menstruation. Our projects and programs pay increased attention to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination - women and girls with disabilities, or women in custody for example, are often severely and disproportionally affected. Legal, social, and cultural barriers are exacerbated by economic barriers, including the costs of menstrual products.
With the adoption of the EU’s Council Conclusions on a Rights-based approach to development cooperation encompassing all human rights in 2014, the EU endorsed the rights-based approach (RBA). The European Consensus on Development ‘Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future’ (2017) reinforced the EU commitment and called upon the EU and its Member States to consistently implement the HRBA, encompassing all human rights, to development cooperation, in line with the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy for 2020-2024. Working on Menstrual Health Management (MHM) through a human rights lens will often require looking at systemic problems, as these most often constitute the barriers to the realization of human rights. Human rights provisions and guarantees can be found in many constitutions, laws and policies. However, the real test is whether in everyday life people, including menstruating women and girls, can enjoy their human rights.
In practice, regulations, local by-laws or even administrative procedures can act either as enablers or barriers to enjoying human rights. Understanding these barriers and identifying how and why they unjustifiably interfere with human rights can inform programming decisions and how to advocate more effectively for change. Human rights also provide an objective standard against which practitioners can hold governments accountable.
The Menstrual Hygiene Day on 28 May, is powered by more than 910 partner organisations that drive advocacy and action for menstrual health and hygiene all around the world, many of these organisations receive support form DG INTPA and DG NEAR, a list of all partners can be found on this link: MH Day supporters | MHDay (menstrualhygieneday.org)
This event aims to raise awareness about the challenges that exist regarding access to menstrual products, education about menstruation and period-friendly sanitation facilities, and to share best practices.
- Chiara Adamo, Head of unit INTPA.G1 Gender Equality, Human Rights and Democratic Governance; and INTPA Equality Coordinator
- Dr. Mandikudza Tembo (PhD) - Menstrual Health Research - London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, also the author of the Website: www.thebleedread.com
- Sascha Gabizon, the Executive Director of Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF)
- Daphne Manolakos, advisor on resilient WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), at GIZ in Germany
- María José Tarrero Martos, Counsellor for Labour, Migrations and Social Security Permanent Representation of Spain to the European Union
Language of conference: English
Language of Q&A session: English, French and Spanish