Recently, Afghanistan celebrated Girls’ Hygiene Day and for the first time set forth guidelines that encourage young girls to feel empowered and knowledgeable about their bodies. The Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) guideline attempts to reach teachers, mothers, and young girls to raise awareness of girl’s hygiene and break prevalent menstruation stigma in Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, 70% of girls do not take baths while menstruating because they fear it will affect their fertility; over 80% of girls are not allowed to attend social events while on their period; and 50% of girls do not know about menstruation until their first period. The First Lady of Afghanistan, Rula Ghani, attended the Girls’ Hygiene Day celebration and solidified her support for ending the taboo around menstruation, saying that “healthy girls of today are the future mothers who will safeguard the process of motherhood and decrease mortality rate amongst young mothers.”
UNICEF’s 2016 formative research on menstrual hygiene found that menstruation, lack of proper facilities, and misinformation regarding periods are among the top reasons that girls miss or drop out of school. The Acting Education Minister of Afghanistan, Mirwais Balkhi, said that, “girls have an irrevocable right to education, which is lost if they feel unable to attend lessons because of a lack of sanitary products or clean, private toilets at school.”
UNICEF has published clips and reading materials for girls in Afghanistan to disseminate information on good hygiene practices and to dispel fears and myths regarding periods.
Media Resources: ToloNews 10/30/18; UNICEF 10/30/18