UNFPA, the Department of Women and partners are to hold the first ever, potentially life changing meeting on managing menstrual health for women and girls in the East and Southern Africa region, the Menstrual Health Management Symposium, in Johannesburg, South Africa from 28 to 29 May.

Why menstrual health matters

Maintaining health and hygiene during menstruation is important for women and girls’ health, well-being, mobility and dignity. To ensure this, they require access to the information, supplies and facilities needed to manage their menstruation. Yet, in the ESA region many girls and women – especially those who live in poverty-stricken areas or who have been affected by humanitarian emergencies – do not have access to appropriate information or menstrual health management facilities and products that are effective, affordable and safe to use. This hinders the daily activities of girls and women, leads to stigma and discrimination, and isolates them from their friends and local communities. Critically, it increases the risk of school absence and drop-out, affects work performance and has potential implications for reproductive and mental health.