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Why it is important to ensure menstrual health in workplaces

Why it is important to ensure menstrual health in workplaces

By MHMPA  |  July 03, 2022

Menstrual health and hygiene should be an integral part of any organization that has included women workforce in it. When organizations invest in proper menstrual health facilities, it not only helps in better output and outcomes but also increases productivity. When organizations don’t support menstrual health and hygiene, it becomes difficult for women and girls to manage their periods and they have a difficult time managing their menstrual health as well. 

Although continuous efforts have been made in developing WASH facilities and in acknowledging social and cultural barriers, there is still insufficient attention given to the importance of menstrual health in the workplace. Menstrual health might be gaining momentum over the years, but very minimal data is available when it comes to menstrual health in the workplace, mainly so for a country like Nepal. 

There are obvious reasons why menstrual health in workplaces has not become an important agenda. 

First, there is stigma and silence around menstruation. In many communities in Nepal, stigma, and taboo revolving around menstruation has been a big issue for many decades. In communities where there is no stigma and taboo attached, there is silence around menstruation. This has created a negative impact as women and young girls are not able to voice their needs in the open hence resulting in their problems not being prioritized. This has often resulted in women missing their work and, in some cases, women losing employment too. There is an urgent need to discuss existing taboos and stigma around the workplace to create a better working environment.

Second, there is a lack of research evidence on this issue. When it comes to Nepal, there are very few evidence-based researches on menstrual health and hygiene in the workplace. Due to lack of research, this area has not gained enough importance that it should have. Research organizations, INGOs, NGOs, and government organizations working in the area of Menstrual Health and Hygiene need to prioritize their efforts in generating data through proper research findings to prioritize the needs of women in the workplace setting.

Third, there are problems related to policies around menstrual. Lower-and-Middle-Income-Countries (LMICs) do not have proper guidelines and policies related to WASH facilities or they simply do not exist. There needs to be proper development of proper guidelines, plans, and policies so that organizations follow certain protocols and develop infrastructures and other menstrual-friendly facilities as long-term sustainable solutions for women in the workplace. There is so much that INGOs, NGOs, and other organizations can do without the support and commitment of the government. 

It is needless to say that not addressing menstrual health will have consequences.  While focusing on menstrual health in the workplace, it is also important to understand the social and health consequences that are faced by women and young girls. It is an unimaginable loss if a girl has to quit school or a woman has to quit employment because of inadequate WASH facilities around educational and workplace settings. In addition, unlike urination, which can be put on hold, menstrual flow is unstoppable and cannot be put on hold. If there are no proper facilities in the workplace, not just in terms of WASH facilities but also in terms of disposal and other priority areas, it will not only affect women with infections in the short-run but also with long-term difficulties like lack of economic freedom and independence.   

Jyotika Rimal is Advocacy Officer with Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management Partners’ Alliance (MHMPA) Nepal.

Source: https://www.nepallivetoday.com/2022/01/06/why-it-is-important-to-ensure-menstrual-health-in-workplaces