In July, WASH United and a wide range of partners from the Menstrual Hygiene Day movement joined thousands of delegates from all around the world for three days of advocacy, learning and networking at the 2023 Women Deliver Conference in Kigali/Rwanda, the biggest and most relevant global conference on gender equality. 

Our mission: making sure that menstrual health and hygiene get high on the gender equality agenda.  

At the last Women Deliver conference in Vancouver in 2019, MHH wasn’t much on the agenda. This time around, we changed that. This year, together, we made MHH the talk of the town!

🩸 At Women Deliver 2019, there was one event dedicated to MHH. At Women Deliver 2023, the MHH community organised ten events dedicated or with a focus on MHH, including:

  • WASH United’s high-level side event, “Menstrual health and hygiene: bloody critical for gender equality,” with incredible speakers including former PM of New Zealand Helen Clark, Kenyan philanthropist and media personality Janet Mbugua and Women Deliver Young Leader  Liz Lum ( who delivered a kick-ass keynote speech) and our CEO Thorsten Kiefer.  In the first part Ruth Graham-Goulder (UNICEF), Jamillie Bigio (USAID) and  Alma Burciaga-Gonzalez (Girls not Brides) highlighted the critical interlinkages of MHH  to education, women’s economic empowerment and gender based violence respectively.  A big “thank you” to our friend Katja Iversen for the fantastic moderation! Learn more about from this article published in the Rwandan New Times here: https://www.newtimes.co.rw/article/9217/women-deliver/breaking-the-silence-menstrual-health-and-hygiene-as-a-catalyst-for-gender-equality

      Other sessions organised by MH Day partners included:

      • The session organised by the Global Menstrual Collective, Irise and the Period Equality Network “Menstrual Justice for All” led to the development of a manifesto that you can read here: https://www.irise.org.uk/menstrualjusticeforall
      • GIZ  organised the side-event “Menstruation creates Jobs” –The untapped job creation potential of the menstrual hygiene sector in Africa,” presenting results from a report conducted by Dalberg and experiences from African companies. (Find the report in the resource collection)
      • The Global Monitoring Group came together for “Strengthening National Monitoring for Action on Menstrual Health & Hygiene (MHH)”, sharing the priorty indicators and their application on national level.

      🩸 In the opening ceremony, Senegalese President Macky SALL challenged Rwandan President Paul Kagame to work together across Africa to make sanitary pads available to all women and girls in Africa free of charge! 💪

        🩸 In Kigali, some of the most prominent and relevant global voices for gender equality acted as champions for MHH, wearing the Menstruation Bracelet and spreading the word about the issue, including Phumzile Mlambo-NgcukaKatja IversenHelen Clark, Natalia Kanem (on stage in the opening session), Hon. Marci Ien and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee! In the photo activation at our booth, more than 500 participants came to  take a stand against period stigma and period poverty to pose with a Menstruation Bracelet.

        🩸At our booth we hosted daily lunchtime talks to share insights and discuss experiences from the MHH community.

        Tuesday, 18 July: “Education about menstruation”. Naomi Tulay-Solanke from Community Healthcare Initiative shared how they are using WASH United’s MHM Education Guide in Liberia. Emily Cruz and Bellen Moges from Splash presented how they built an educational eco-system around the MHM Education Guide in their Ethiopian program through sessions with boys and caretakers.

        Wednesday 19 July: “Interlinkages between MHH and other key gender issues”.  Diana Nelson from Days For Girls presented the “Period-postive workplace” initiative. Ayesha Leghari,  PSI Pakistan talked about how they approach MHH and SRHR  and Diana Carolina Moreno from profamilia Colombia showcased brand-new tools for MHH education that they will roll out soon.

        Thursday 20 July: “Results, highlights and insights from Menstrual Hygiene Day 2023”. Thorsten Kiefer (WASH United) showcased the first high-level impact data. MH Day was celebrated in Guyana, too, as Christine Samwoo, Breadfood Collective shared. MH Day supporter Procter & Gamble closed the session by highlighting how they support MH Day, and how they engaged influencers.

        🩸 Organised by the MH Hub in collaboration with the Global Menstrual Collective, +35 MHH champions came together at the Kigali Menstruation Station to meet and mingle, share their work, and get energised for the week ahead.

        🩸 And a very important VIP guest was spotted at the Period Party and the closing session (pun intended):  the Period!

         

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