The event, organized by the African Coalition on Menstrual Health Management (ACMHM) with UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, recognized progress from the first symposium in 2018 with menstrual health policies rolled out across the continent.
The high-level opening session featured Sahle-Work Zewde (the President of Ethiopia), Monica Chakwera (the First Lady of Malawi), Diene Keita (UNFPA Deputy Executive Director for Programme), and Mr. Robert Kampala (Regional Director of WaterAid representing the leadership of the ACMHM). More than 90 experts shared their research findings and experience during the symposium and called for renewed commitments and accelerated action to improve menstrual health in Africa.
“Promoting menstrual health is not only a health and sanitation matter, but also a crucial step towards safeguarding the dignity, integrity and overall life opportunities for women and girls.”
The symposium identified good practices and innovative solutions on improving menstrual health and integrating into Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) policies and programmes (see new resource below), and sustainable financing towards universal access to menstrual health information, products, and services.
In Africa, there has been impressive policy shifts such as tax exemption for menstrual products to reduce period poverty. However, significant gaps still exist to ensure access to menstrual health information, products, and services (se new resource below).
The symposium also highlighted the role of men and boys for improved menstrual health and using people-centered multi-sectoral approaches through the lens of the life cycle. Traditional and religious leaders had a role to eliminate stigma and harmful and discriminatory practices around menstruation. In addition, the symposium brought to light the importance of programmes addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of young people, particularly on expansion of comprehensive sexuality education. Moreover, the event called for attention to women, girls and people in emergency and humanitarian crises, and the impact of COVID-19 on menstrual health services.
(Abstract from ACMHM.org)
Re-watch Day 1
Re-watch Day 2
Re-watch Day 3
CALL TO ACTION
The symposium adopted A Renewed Call to Action to strengthen commitments to respond effectively to the menstrual health needs of women, girls and all people who menstruate throughout the reproductive life cycle, and to leave no one behind.
“We need to redouble our efforts to increase external as well as domestic financing by developing costing models, investment cases and using innovative financing instruments. Situating menstrual, sexual and reproductive health within country-specific Universal Health Coverage policy, financing, delivery and financial protection arrangements will not only improve sustainable financing for menstrual, sexual and reproductive health but also accelerate progress towards universal access to menstrual, sexual and reproductive health information, products and services.”