Sanitation for Millions recognises that good menstrual health comprises more than the practical aspects of menstrual hygiene management (MHM). The programme purposefully looks beyond the sanitary materials, facilities and services needed for safe and dignified self-care during menstruation (i.e. the hygiene part of menstrual health) to consider broader cultural and social factors that affect menstrual health and well-being. Its inclusive approach to menstrual health and MHM seeks to address socio- cultural barriers alongside efforts to extend access to safe products and infrastructure. To this end, Sanitation for Millions works closely with local implementing partners to reach out to women and girls, as well as men and boys: a wide range of custom-designed hygiene behaviour communication and capacity development activities complement the construction and rehabilitation of gender-sensitive sanitary facilities. Programme design and indicators are informed by those employed by WHO and UNICEF to monitor MHM as part of sanitation in schools.4 Interventions not only meet high technical standards of health and hygiene, but are adequately resourced to ensure the responsible institutions are in a position to cover recurrent MHM expenses. As always, Sanitation for Millions’ activities cover the entire sanitation chain and are geared towards long-term sustainability, meaning that the environmental impact of menstrual product disposal is considered as an integral part of MHM. Importantly, there is a clear emphasis on culturally appropriate messaging that promotes the empowerment of women and girls whilst remaining respectful of social beliefs, religious norms and customary laws. The case studies from Jordan, Pakistan and Uganda that follow give an insight into how Sanitation for Millions’ bottom-up approach to menstrual health and menstrual hygiene management generates direct and tangible impacts, which then feed into the national policy dialogue.
Sanitation for Millions