Tag Archives: menstrual hygiene management

International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day and our project proudly recognizes, and stands in solidarity with, the incredible women and girls all around the world that face a day-to-day adversity that is individual only to them.

Aside from promoting and standing for equality across the board for women, our project has also focused on creating a sanitation solution that focuses on the needs and safety of women and girls.

Intentional partnerships, like the one we have with SEWA – a women’s union in India with national reach in-country, that supports user studies through the mobilization of communities to provide input and feedback – have had a direct influence on our system design and approach. This data we collect is being implemented into our toilet system so that we can provide a space of safety for women and girls to relieve and care for themselves with dignity.

Our team is also sharing this data openly – collaborating with other institutions to help develop system designs, as well as educate on the needs for better access to proper MHM (Menstrual Hygiene Management). Many cultures around the world still don’t recognize this vital need in society, resorting to damaging and often dangerous treatment of women and girls during their monthly period. We are trying to do our part to help remedy that.

It goes without saying that toilets can’t solve every issue a woman faces daily, but they can at least make portions of their day-to-day life easier and safer.

You can find more information on International Women’s Day right here.

“Blood Money: The Race to Crack India’s Lucrative Menstruation Market”

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A great article by Rebecca Hobson on India’s burgeoning (and lucrative) market for menstruation management was posted recently on vice.com’s “Broadly.” channel. It discusses how, finally, the armor that surrounds the fear and ignorance of a woman’s period – and how to properly handle it – is developing some cracks in recent years.

“India is currently experiencing something of a menstrual health enlightenment. Numerous NGOs, government campaigns and social enterprises have sprung up in the last five years. All with the same mission: to address and remedy the country’s complicated and complex attitudes towards menstruation.”

It’s high time this enlightenment is occurring too. For generations women have been obscenely mistreated and shunned for something that occurs naturally in every woman, every month, since the human race began.

“These same women are often considered impure while on their period. They are barred from the kitchen, temples, mosques and, bizarrely, from pickle—which they’re told will rot if they touch it. Taboos that would be farcical if the consequences weren’t so dire.”

The piece also covers how, now that local people (and companies) are becoming knowledgable on menstrual hygiene management, that there is a bit of a race to find what is the best option for a place as densely populated as India. Pads are a start but, depending on how they are made, can lead to a huge waste problem – not to mention an equally huge plumbing problem in a place where functioning sewerage is already in dire supply. Menstrual cups are also an option that produce way less waste. But there is still stigma surrounding it societally, though even that is changing worldwide.

In short, it’s a complicated issue, and to a certain degree it needs to be. There is no turn key solution. What works in some countries, can’t/won’t in others. We all need to work towards solutions that can work for every female on this planet. Regardless of geography or culture.

There’s much, much more in this article that is well worth your time. Click here to read it in it’s entirety.

“Happy #WorldToiletDay! Here’s What It’s Like To Live Without One”

Picture taken from NPR.org from the article found at the following address: http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/11/19/456495448/happy-worldtoiletday-here-s-what-it-s-like-to-live-without-one
Maria Fabrizio for NPR

In a recent opinion piece on NPR.org by Jane Otai, she describes the ways that, as a woman, she dealt with finding proper toilet facilities to go the bathroom in Kenya.

She holds no punches when describing the situation either.

“To get there, I had to walk 10 minutes, stand in the queue for my turn and be vigilant about my safety. At crowded times, like in the morning and evening, I might have to wait 10 minutes. The people in line would be dancing to keep from peeing and complaining about how the people using the toilets were taking too long.

In sum, a toilet was a facility I could only access with great difficulty.

It was also filthy. The toilets were never cleaned. One had to master special maneuvers to avoid messing oneself with human waste found inside. Since there was no toilet paper, people would wipe their hands on the walls. If you were wearing a sweater, you learned to remove it before entering — or else the stench would stick with you. And for this experience, I had to pay a shilling per visit, money that was not available readily.”

She also spends time on the fact that, by merely being a woman in an informal settlement in Kenya, her safety was at risk if she ever needed a toilet.

There was nothing worse than getting an upset stomach due to bad food or water. This meant visiting the toilet many times in a day.

I say “day” because, for a girl, visiting the toilet at night can be very risky. Walking in the dark gives men opportunities to prey on young girls — to molest or rape them. My friends and I were terrified of this possibility and never ventured out between dusk and dawn.

Her story is a universal one. We’ve heard it many times from women and girls that live in a country with inadequate or nonexistent sanitation. Our project is working towards providing a solution that not only gives a safe and private option for anyone to relieve themselves, but also a solution that caters to the needs of women and girls with a keen focus on MHM. The sanitation needs of women in developing countries has been neglected for far too long. By continuing to ignore these issues, we only further deny women and girls the opportunity to live life with dignity, safety, and an equal opportunity to education. The world can do better.

The entire post is definitely worth a read. It’s a sobering account for sure, but it’s one we all should have on our collective radar.

Click here to read it in it’s entirety.

Our Dedication to MHM.

This article written by WSSCC and distributed via the Guardian.com advocates for the linkage between sanitation and menstrual hygiene management (MHM).

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We whole-heartedly share this message, and have embodied this in our work in the lab as well as our field testing in India to develop our prototype systems. Our continued efforts are significant, and are informing design iterations where we are including MHM into our sanitation and waste treatment strategies. We are dedicating engineering R&D resources to MHM waste management and incineration strategies, social science research tools and approaches, as well as participating in extensive community engagement on how to best link MHM with innovative sanitation.

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Our prototype cabin provides a space, actually with extra space, for women and girls, all with the intent to ensure a clean, private, and safe toilet space that facilitates managing menstruation, provides water and space for washing, and encompasses safe strategies for menstrual product disposal. Our prototypes have an integrated pad disposal chute and provides a mechanism for, and the distribution of, pad products.

We have much to learn and refine, but our mission and purpose to address MHM as a central part of innovative sanitation technology development is clear.