Girls and women’s ability to manage their menses and menstrual health is more than merely a biological process. It is an issue that is fundamentally shaped by the political, economic and social structures and lies at the heart of empowerment, gender equality and the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all girls and women. These structures place women and particularly girls differentially in terms of the challenges they experience in managing their menses. In already challenging circumstances, these difficulties may work to reinforce gender inequalities and further marginalize girls in resource constrained contexts in very particular ways.
The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded these multiple challenges and has impacted negatively on efforts to improve Menstrual Health in South Africa. From the start of COVID-19, there was concern on how the pandemic would affect women and girls’ ability to manage their menstruation. The pandemic has highlighted that menstrual health in different countries and regions was negatively impacted. Over the course of the pandemic, menstruators experienced increased barriers to accessing menstrual products including:
(1) pandemic lockdown prevented consumers from traveling to markets to purchase sanitary products and interrupted provision of products through schools; (2) global supply chain interruptions decreased the reliability of systems that deliver sanitary products to market; (3) inflation increased the cost of disposable sanitary products in some countries; and (4) shifts in funding priorities towards emergency response redirected funds away from programmes that may have otherwise provided menstruators with a regular supply of sanitary products. These barriers highlighted the needed for development partners to support national level efforts to lead and own MH solutions, which in the long run will ensure long term impact and sustainability.
The objective of the webinar is to share data and information on the current state of Menstrual Health in South Africa. The SA Coalition on Menstrual Health Management (SAMHM) will share lessons learned, work the various task committees are focusing on and achievements they have had the past year.
A call to action to various stakeholders the how they can support efforts to get better policy commitments towards improving Menstrual Health.
The South African Coalition on Menstrual Health Management was launched on 9-10 March 2020 to coordinate Menstrual Health Management and to provide a platform for different stakeholders to collaborate on a variety of topics that raise awareness on realizing the commitments made by the South African Government