Is There Underwear Under There?

Many menstrual products and puberty education programs rely on the assumption that girls have underwear that they can wear during their periods. But to what extent is that a reasonable assumption? And what alternatives exist?

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Dongas bicycle in scenic setting

Creative Advocacy: Adrian Dongus “Menstrual Cycling” as an MHM Advocate

Adrian Dongus is currently cycling across 14 countries – from Kenya to the Netherlands – to raise money for menstrual hygiene kits to be given to refugees. While few people are likely to have the exact set of interests, skills, and resources needed to take on a challenge of this nature, this example provides an opportunity for anyone involved in MHM work to think of creative ways that they might be able to combine their own personal interests and personal hobbies – or those of others they happen to know – with the work of bringing awareness to menstrual issues.

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Girls in Uganda carrying an MH Day sign

Analyzing Menstrual Hygiene Day

Menstrual Hygiene Day is held annually on May 28. Since its inception five years ago, it has become an annual celebration and useful tool for MHM organizations, which tend to conduct a variety of community events (educational, fundraising, political, menstrual product distributions, etc.) on the day itself, and in the days leading up to it. This post provides an overview of Menstrual Hygiene Day, along with some tips for organizations to start thinking early about planning for it in 2020.

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Auxillia Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe

Talking Politics: First Ladies as Issue Advocates

When considering the process of policy-making on menstrual hygiene management (MHM) issues, the roles of politicians, journalists, lobbyists, and interest groups tend to be the focus. Less often considered is the role of the wives of politicians, both national and local, as change-makers for female-focused policy, including issues pertaining to menstrual health. Here, we review the instrumental role of the wives of leaders, or “first ladies,” of several countries in keeping menstrual health on the political and media forefront.

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Entrepreneurship: Ramona Kasavan from Mimi Women on Building a Business Plan

In addition to building her own menstrual health-oriented business (Mimi Women, based in South Africa), Ramona Kasavan wants to help other entrepreneurs establish their own companies. In an informal video blog (“vlog”) entry, Ramona provides an overview of how to develop a business plan, while also showing how the power of video can be used to share ideas directly between menstrual health innovators.

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The May 2018 Johannesburg MHM Symposium

In May 2018, many of those in the global MHM sector attended the Menstrual Health Management symposium held in Johannesburg, South Africa. Almost one year later, it seems worth looking back on this significant event in the progress of menstrual health as a global movement. What was learned from it? What has it led to so far?

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Uplifting the Girl Child (Burundi)

Grace Ningejeje came to Dartmouth in 2017 through the YALI Mandela Program to work on a project on menstrual hygiene in her home country of Burundi, a country facing a tremendous degree of menstrual stigma combined with unusually high degrees of poverty and school dropout rates by girls. IMHER was developed to help Grace – and by extension, other innovators like her — to gather much of the foundational information usually needed to get started in this work, and that can help an organization to grow. In the meantime, Grace has been making considerable progress at home, with a new organization focused on education, disposable pad donations, and a newly published book for girls in her country about menstrual hygiene. But she is still trying to figure out how to produce commercially viable pads in a place where little disposable income exists for most families, and where the almost-never discussed challenges faced by girls do not tend to get ranked highly among other pressing family needs. 

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The YALI Mandela Program

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, is a core program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a program that empowers young leaders through several weeks of courses, leadership education, mentorship, and networking at American universities, including Dartmouth, culminating in a conference held in Washington, D.C. A number of YALI scholars have focused on projects related to menstrual hygiene. Young African leaders and innovators age 21-35 should consider applying to this program.

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