Islamabad, July 19, 2017 (PPI-OT):About 100 representatives from government, development organizations, civil society, youth and media convened at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services, in Islamabad to commemorate Menstrual Hygiene Day.
Menstrual Hygiene Day serves as a neutral platform to bring together individuals, organizations, social businesses and the media to create a united and strong voice for women and girls around the world, helping to break the silence around menstrual hygiene management (MHM). This year, the global theme of the day is “Education about Menstruation Changes Everything.”
A panel discussion focusing on the impact of lack of proper menstrual hygiene on the education of adolescent girls was organized. Panellists included Ms. Khawar Mumtaz, Chairperson of the National Commission on Women Status, Mr. Syed Ayub Qutub, Chief Executive of PIEDAR and Mr. Nasim Ashraf, an Islamabad based Gynaecologist Obstetrician delving into much needed solutions to tackle the taboo and associated problems that women especially young adolescent girls face. The event was organized by the MHM Working Group, a coalition of humanitarian organizations working to champion menstrual hygiene management in Pakistan.
According to research conducted on menstrual knowledge and practices of female adolescents in urban Karachi less than 20% of girls surveyed understood that menstruation was a natural bodily function.
The event was chaired by Mr. Khalid Hussain Magsi, Chairman of the Parliament Standing Committee on Health. Other representatives from government included, Mr. Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, Secretary of the Ministry of Climate Change in the Government of Pakistan. The event provided a platform to put a spotlight on an issue which is hardly addressed in Pakistan yet sadly mostly adolescent girls and women do not have access to the facilities they need to manage their menstrual cycles.
During his address Mr. Hussain Magsi said, “Women and girls miss out on opportunities in life because of not being able to handle this part of their life in a dignified manner. If we have to make health and education, inclusive and equitable by 2030 in Pakistan, we have to focus on MHM needs of our girls and women. ”
Echoing his words, UNICEF’s Chief of Education said, “Despite Pakistan’s gains in meeting its water and sanitation development goals, we are still failing millions of adolescent girls and young women who do not have access to the most basic necessities for managing their periods. As a result of this, and lack of basic knowledge on menstruation, their education suffers. We all know that many girls skip school during their periods, and that some of them eventually drop out.”
“The objective of the MHM Working Group is to raise cognizance of creating an enabling policy environment for prioritizing MHM in the programming agendas and to support the Government in the implementation of MHM interventions,” said Ms. Hina Kausar, co-chair of the MHM Working Group Pakistan.
A key objective of the event was to promote sharing and learning of experiences from stakeholders working on MHM across the country and at the same time engage government to take a more proactive stand to implement and fund policies that promote proper MHM in Pakistan. The discussions will culminate in policy recommendations for relevant ministries in Pakistan to support necessary actions to improve the status of MHM in the country.
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