Frequently asked questions
Why is Menstrual Hygiene Day observed on 28 May?
While the length of the menstrual cycle varies, the average duration is 28 days. And, on average, periods last for five days. Together, this signifies 28-5 or 28 May. Menstrual Hygiene Day has been observed on 28 May since 2014.
It’s important to note that the average durations referred to above may not be representative of individual experiences of menstruation. Data gathered from period tracking apps suggests the average cycle may be longer (Faust, et al., 2019; Bull, J. R, et all, 2019). However, there are limitations to the data as the study population is derived solely from users of tracking apps who may not be representative of the wider population. Therefore, we adhere to the widely accepted 28-day average.
Why do we need to observe Menstrual Hygiene Day?
Menstruation and menstrual hygiene continue to be met with silence and neglect all around the world. At this stage, there still needs to be a dedicated global day action to break the silence and catalyse both action and funding on the issue.
Who came up with the idea for Menstrual Hygiene Day? How did it start?
Berlin-based non-profit, WASH United (WU) came up with the idea for a global day of action for MHM in May 2013. A campaign in India in late 2012 convinced WU of the urgent need for concerted advocacy on MHM. In May 2013, we carried out a 28-day campaign on social media to test the waters and see if other organisations were interested in this issue, too. Extremely positive feedback from organisations around the world prompted the idea to create a global day of action that would allow actors working on MHM around the world to use their voices together.
Who is behind Menstrual Hygiene Day?
MH Day was initiated by the German non-profit WASH United in 2013. WASH United is the overall global coordinator of MH Day and acts as its international secretariat. WASH United’s role includes:
- coordination of the MH Day partner network comprising of >500 social impact organizations,
- overall strategy and direction for MH Day,
- creation and dissemination of content for the annual MH Day campaign and ongoing campaigning,
- external communication (MH Day website, social media and newsletters) and representation of MH Day (at conferences and other sector events),
- strategic partnerships (including with the media) and fundraising,
- monitoring and reporting.
Can I celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day if my organisation is not an official partner?
Yes! We encourage everyone to celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day)! Aside from for-profit organisations, anyone can use MH Day materials free of charge. Becoming a partner is free, too. Simply write to us and let us know that you want to become a partner. Initially, all we need is your logo and the details of the main point of contact within your organisation. Send your partner request to us: firstname.lastname@example.org
What happens during the Menstrual Hygiene Day campaign period
On and and around 28 May, our partners and organisations working in MHH speak with one voice to push back societal taboos and stigma and increase the political relevance of the issue. As well as campaigning via social media, many organisations use the occassion of Menstrual Hygiene Day to release new reports and data on the issue, and harness the power of the media to share this stigma-busting messaging with the wider public.
Menstrual Hygiene Day partners and others hold hundreds of events and activities around the world. Every year, MH Day events range from educational sessions in schools to community rallies and concerts to raise awareness. We also see advocacy events with governments to increase the political priority of the issue and product donations drives and distributions and much more.
What happens beyond 28 May?
While the period around 28 May is the annual peak of activity, the Secretariat compliments the campaign with ongoing action and several smaller campaigns throughout the year to achieve increased attention for menstrual hygiene all year round.
Why do you use the term menstrual hygiene and not menstrual health? Do I have to use the term menstrual hygiene or can we use other terminology instead?
The term Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) focuses on what women and girls need to manage their periods safely, hygienically, with confidence and without shame. In 2012, menstrual hygiene management (MHM) was defined by the Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene as
“Women and adolescent girls using a clean menstrual management material to absorb or collect blood that can be changed in privacy as often as necessary for the duration of the menstruation period, using soap and water for washing the body as required, and having access to facilities to dispose of used menstrual management materials. They understand the basic facts linked to the menstrual cycle and how to manage it with dignity and without discomfort or fear.”
Menstrual Health and Hygiene encompasses both MHM and the broader systemic factors that link menstruation with health, well-being, gender equality, education, equity, empowerment, and rights. These systematic factors have been summarised by UNESCO as accurate and timely knowledge, available, safe, and affordable materials, informed and comfortable professionals, referral and access to health services, sanitation and washing facilities, positive social norms, safe and hygienic disposal and advocacy and policy.
Since April 2021, there is an official definition for menstrual health. Menstrual health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in relation to the menstrual cycle.
We use the term Menstrual health and hygiene as it is the most inclusive.
The official name of the day is Menstrual Hygiene Day. When you refer to the day itself, please make sure to stick to that official name. Not doing so is confusing, especially for the media and other multipliers, and hence can undermine our overall collective efforts.
Beyond the name of the day itself, you know best what terminology works for the specific issue and context you work in. So whether you want to use menstrual hygiene, menstrual health & hygiene, menstrual health, menstrual equity or whatever other term is completely up to you.
Are you inclusive of all people who menstruate?
We recognise that not all people who menstruate identify as women and girls and that not all women and girls menstruate. However, the vast majority of people who experience menstruation and the challenges that come with it identify as women and girls. That’s why we often refer to women and girls explicitly in our work.
In our view, ‘women, girls and other people who menstruate’ is the best and most inclusive term. However, for brevity, more often than not we will use women and girls*, with an explanatory note.
Where feasible, we will also use the term ‘women, girls and other people who menstruate’ in recognition of the fact that some nonbinary people and trans men are affected by menstruation-related challenges.
Who funds Menstrual Hygiene Day?
Menstrual Hygiene Day receives financial support from government agencies, foundations, corporate partners and individual donors. View a list of our supporters.
Funding for menstrual hygiene advocacy is still limited, and we are always looking for additional support to enable us to sustain and increase the impact of Menstrual Hygiene Day.
Get in touch
Office phone: +49-30-55576806-1
Mail address: WASH United gGmbH, Fuerbringerstrasse 7, 10961 Berlin, Germany