Together for a #PeriodForFriendlyWorld: GCC Cluster Celebrates International Menstrual Hygiene Day

On Tuesday, June 4th, 2024, the Girls Create Change (GCC) Cluster, supported by CRVPF’s Adolescent Girls Power Program (AGPP) and based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, commemorated International Menstrual Hygiene Day. The event, held in Buyuni Ward, sought to educate communities about menstruation and menstruation hygiene and dispel misconceptions about periods and period hygiene.  Additionally, the event aimed to strengthen community structures, enabling them to provide safe spaces for girls to address concerns related to menstruation and feminine hygiene.

The event was attended by several stakeholders, including the Dar VAC Cluster, which is supported by CRVPF’s Prevention of Violence Against Children (PVAC) initiative, adolescent girls who are both in and out of school, the Community Welfare Officer, local government authorities from Buyuni Ward, parents, and key members of the community. The day commenced with a march from the Buyuni Ward office to the Buyuni local authority headquarters, spanning roughly 0.5 km. During the march, participants displayed posters bearing messages intended to increase awareness about menstruation and menstrual hygiene. In addition, certain placards contained messages that aimed to increase accessibility to feminine hygiene products and dispel misconceptions about menstruation.

After the march, Ms. Neema Mchau, a member of the GCC cluster, formally opened the event by welcoming all participants and discussed the significance of the day and the agenda which was aligned with this year’s global theme, “Together for a #PeriodForFriendlyWorld,”. The guests were then addressed by Ms. Mariam Mussae, the Ward community social welfare officer, who underscored the significance of adolescent girls maintaining good menstrual hygiene and remaining informed about menstruation in order to effectively manage period concerns throughout the year. She proceeded to provide the adolescent girls with insights regarding the dangers of engaging in unhealthy sexual behaviors and the possible consequences this could result in, including early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Subsequently, participants were granted the opportunity to provide their viewpoints on the subject and propose potential strategies for creating a “period friendly world”. Parents and caregivers recognized the necessity of ongoing education regarding sexual reproductive health and menstruation during these discussions. They recommended that the government should distribute free pads in both schools and public spaces, such as places of worship, as not everyone has the financial means to purchase feminine sanitary products which can disrupt their daily lives, including missing school. An adolescent girl stated, “Every month I spend around five thousand ($1.50) to buy menstrual products, and this is not always easy for me to do” During the discussions, it became clear that many people struggle to purchase these products.

Some community members emphasised the significance of establishing safe and enabling environments for girls in schools, including safe changing rooms, access to clean water, and sanitary disposal systems. Furthermore, they encouraged the establishment of inclusive community dialogues and clubs to address menstrual concerns, sexual and reproductive health rights and gender-based violence. Their objective was to eradicate negative attitudes about menstruation and enhance the availability, accessibility, and affordability of feminine hygiene products.

Ms. Mariam Mussa concluded the event which was attended by about 150 people, by congratulating the organisers and participants for their efforts in promoting awareness of menstruation and sanitary hygiene and building the power of adolescent girls in Buyini Ward. She emphasised that education and awareness regarding this subject should be continuous, rather than limited to event days, in order to fortify community structures and eliminate taboos.

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