How can we bring Menstrual health rights issues higher up the agenda without leaving out other human rights?

| April 30, 2019

The recent years has seen a wave of support for the promotion of gender equality and the protection of women and girls rising gain momentum. The birth of SDGs has further provided a multi sectoral approach to the global development agenda, with governments, civil society and private sector eager to play a role in the development puzzle. One of the most important realisations is the long overdue need to empower and protect the rights of women, from political, social, economic and environmental perspective driven by the traceable world history of the neglect of women and girls.

One of the most important and valuable rights for women and girls is that of health needs. Approaching equlity and equity from a more primary and personal level is very important in such circumstances. Unlike men, women have special health needs that have sadly been overlooked by society and menstrual health and hygiene being one of those, the question is: How can we bring the menstrual health advocacy to the agenda without negating other rights which could be equally important.

My response to this is its possible and here is how:

It should be observed that menstrual health needs do not come in isolation and are linked to a multiple other basic human entitlement, therefore, there is a need need to gather enough information that helps in strengthening the advocacy agenda and show the duty bearers how its neglect can result in the infringement of other basic human rights. Advocacy must be problem-posing, goal-orienteds and solution-focused while at the same time providing a clear picture of how the matter affects women from a broader perspective. For example, through the “My Health, My Dignity” I have been an advocate for the provision of sanitary wear to school- going girls to keep them in education and to create a friendly learning environment. Looking closely, one can realise that whilst advocating for menstrual health provision, the advocacy has been linked to how lack of menstrual health can affect girls’ access to education, gender equality, and health as well as the right to life. In this regard, issue-based information gathering is important in providing a holistic approach to the menstrual hygiene advocacy.

In short, to make sure that, whilst we advocate for proper menstrual health provision and put it at the higher agenda, we must also point out how it affects society and the world at large. By having a wide approach to these issues, we can help develop a multi-faceted approach in solving the problem. And, this holistic approach to advocacy will create allies that also bring different global issues to the highest level, as menstrual health provision can have different effects and require different solutions depending on the constituency of people and their realities.

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