Press Statement on Menstrual Health Day: Urgent Call for Stakeholder Action 28TH/MAY/2023

For immediate release

On this Menstrual Health Day, we emphasize the urgent need for stakeholders to take deliberate efforts to improve the menstrual health and well-being of girls and women in Uganda. Menstrual health is not only a matter of hygiene but a human right that deserves global attention. It is alarming to note that over 40% of girls in Uganda miss school due to poor menstrual health, lack of menstrual products, and various other factors.

One of the critical issues contributing to this problem is the devastating condition of school washroom facilities. Many schools lack proper facilities for girls to change sanitary towels, and the absence of running water further exacerbates the situation. This lack of basic infrastructure directly affects the educational opportunities and overall health of young girls, hindering their ability to reach their full potential.

To address this pressing challenge, it is essential to invest in menstrual health by establishing a dedicated budget to cater for menstrual products in schools. Currently, the available capitation grant from the government is less than 20,000 Ugandan shillings, which is insufficient to meet the menstrual health needs of girls. This financial constraint severely limits access to essential menstrual hygiene products, causing girls to miss out on their education and exposing them to potential health risks.

Several global commitments have been made to address menstrual health and its impact on the lives of girls and women. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations, include specific targets related to menstrual health, such as ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services, promoting gender equality, and eliminating discrimination against women and girls The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) also recognizes menstrual health as a vital component of sexual and reproductive health and rights. These commitments highlight the importance of menstrual health as a human right and provide a framework for action.

We call upon the government of Uganda to prioritize the menstrual health needs of girls and allocate a more substantial budget for menstrual products in schools. Additionally, we urge international donors and organizations to increase grant opportunities for menstrual health programs. Collaboration and support from all stakeholders are vital to ensure that girls have the necessary resources and support to manage their menstrual health with dignity and without hindrance.

It is crucial to recognize that menstruation is not merely a hygiene issue; it is a health issue with significant implications for physical and mental well-being. Insufficient access to menstrual products, coupled with societal stigmas and taboos, can have severe consequences on the overall health and confidence of girls and women. It is our collective responsibility to break the silence surrounding menstruation, create safe spaces for discussions, and implement comprehensive menstrual health programs that address the multifaceted aspects of this issue.

On this Menstrual Health Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to championing the rights and well-being of girls and women. We urge all stakeholders, including the government, civil society organizations, educational institutions, and community leaders, to work together to ensure that every girl and woman in Uganda can manage their menstrual health with dignity, access adequate menstrual products, and pursue their education without disruption.

Together, let us build a future where menstruation is no longer a barrier but a normal part of life that is embraced and supported. #WeAreCommited