By Our Reporter
KAMPALA, Uganda [SHIFTMEDIA] Government has been urged to invest in menstrual health as Uganda joins the rest of the world this 28th day of May to mark the Menstrual Hygiene Day, (MHD)
It is the day when the awareness regarding importance of menstrual hygiene among women takes center stage.
This year’s global theme is “Making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030.” The overarching goal is to build a world where no one is held back because they menstruate by 2030.
In Uganda, the Women Probono Initiative (WPI) is commemorating the MHD by breaking the silence, and stigma that comes with issues related to menstruation.
Statistics show that scores of teenage girls, especially students in Uganda still face numerous challenges related to stigmatization, exclusion and discrimination due to menstruation.
Ms Primah Kwagala, the Executive Director Women Probono Initiative noted that as the day is celebrated, WPI will among others continue to engage with various decision-makers in increasing the political priority and catalyzing action for Menstrual Health at global and national levels.
Article 33 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, requires the State to give women equal status with men in society; to provide the facilities and opportunities necessary to enhance the welfare of women to enable them to realize their full potential and advancement.
The state is also mandated to protect women and their rights, considering their unique status and natural maternal functions in society.
But despite, these, a recent review of the district development plans revealed that Menstrual Health and Hygiene are still not prioritized and budgeted for.
Parliament is also obligated under Article 21(4) of the Constitution to implement policies and programs aimed at addressing social, economic, educational, or other imbalances in society. “The Government must therefore invest in menstrual health as Menstrual Health and Hygiene remains a neglected component that affects many girls and women, especially those still in school” said Kwagala.
In statement, the WPI being an organization that promotes access to justice for women and girls in Uganda through the use of legal tools leverages on addressing challenges that hinder the realization of girls’ rights by offering free legal aid services to different women in our communities.
“We are carrying out advocacy initiatives aimed at ensuring that women’s participation in their social lives is not restricted. Some of the highlighted challenges that squarely fall with this year’s theme are the issues of teenage pregnancy, stigma, and taboos on menstrual health management,” noted Kwagala.
WPI urged government to honor their pledge (made by President Museveni during the 2005 presidential campaigns in Lango Sub Region) to avail free.
sanitary pads to girls in schools and also remove taxes on menstrual products.
“Making sanitary materials affordable and accessible for women and girls will help alleviate the inequality perpetuated by period poverty in Uganda,” noted the release.
Kwagala noted that ending period stigma and shame requires eradicating harmful cultural norms such as taboos that depict menstruation as dirty, shameful, and as something which should be hidden. “Failure to prioritize Menstrual Health as a human right has far-reaching negative impacts on the lives of young women and girls,” she said.
WPI noted in the statement that they are committed to making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030 by addressing negative impacts such as restriction of women and girls’ mobility, freedom, and choices, that affects their attendance and participation in school and community life.
Why May 28, 2023?
May 28th was intentionally selected to commemorate menstrual hygiene day because most women on average get their periods in 5 days, represented by the fifth month of the year (May) and their cycles tend to last 28 days (28th). In this way, May 28th is especially iconic.