In 1994 the first International Conference of Population and Development (ICPD) took place in Cairo. 179 governments adopted a landmark Programme of Action, but it made no explicit mention of menstrual health and hygiene (MHH) as part of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) or public health. 25 years later the governments of Kenya and Denmark and UNFPA co-convened the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 on 12th-14th November 2019. It was a high-level conference to mobilise the political will and financial commitments needed to fully implement the ICPD Programme of Action.
The MHH Collective, which includes UNFPA, ACMHM and WASH United/MH Day, has identified the current lack of funding as a critical barrier to progress and has agreed that catalysing investment in MHH is a key priority. Our micro-campaign at ICPD25 was about building momentum by getting high-level decision makers to stand up for MHH and support the message that increased investment is required. It helped us increase the political relevance of the issue and also offer a way for us to draw concrete commitments from those decision makers in the future.
We created speech bubbles with messages calling for investment into MHH, and asked decision-makers at ICPD25 to have their photograph taken holding one of them. We also handed out MH Day Action Bracelets to the decision makers so they had something to take away as a reminder of their participation. We then shared the photos on social media to create visibility and accountability.
The micro-campaign was a great success, with many high-level decision-makers taking part. These included members of parliament, first ladies, senior figures from MH Day partners, senior executives from the private sector and more.
Left to right: Virginia Kamowa, WSSCC and Hon. Jappie Mhango, Minister of Health and Population Malawi; Anne Philpott, Senior Health Advisor and Deputy Head Extreme Poverty, Africa Regional, Department for International Development UK; Pam Damoff (right), Member of Parliament for Oakville North-Burlington, Canada. Image provided by SafePad; Hon. Jacqueline Angongin, Member of Pan-African Parliament.
Left to right: Tham Maya Thapa, Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizens Nepal; Asa Anderson, Lead Global Policy Specialist Health and SRHR at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency; Noro Haingo Rakotoseheno (left), Directorate of Reproductive Health and Protection of Youth at Ministry of Youth and Sports, Madagascar.
Our partners at ICPD25 also joined the call, here is a selection.
Moving forward, we will continue our advocacy at conferences around the world by asking decision makers to raise their voices to call for more investment in MHH.
Below is a gallery of images taken with some of the Awardees present who won the Power Together Award at the Reykjavík Global Forum, 18th-20th November 2019.