Every 28 May, the world comes together to celebrate the steps being taken to normalise menstrual hygiene management. Education is key to ending the stigma against menstruation. As well, increasing the availability of inclusive WASH facilities for proper hygiene and disposal. In honour of Menstrual Hygiene Day, SNV in Mozambique staff are heading to the Mopeia district to attend the Ministry of Education’s inauguration of the country’s first-ever PRONASAR period-friendly school toilets.
The PRONASAR  period-friendly school toilet is a model developed by SNV under the CEDeS programme — supported by UKAid (of the Government of the United Kingdom) — and the auspices of the multi-sectoral sanitation group, that includes several organisations such as the WSUP, WaterAid, World Vision and UNICEF.
Designed based on (inter-)nationally recognised standards for health and inclusivity, input from development partners, and perceptions of school-attending girls and teachers, the facility’s basic features are:
- a wheelchair ramp, with durable metal railing to support people with disabilities;
- individual and private toilet facilities, with lockable doors;
- handwashing facilities inside and outside of the facility;
- structural (building) improvements to withstand natural disasters; and
- private compartments for girls, with culturally appropriate menstrual waste options.
The potential to take the PRONASAR school WASH facility to scale has now become more real than ever. Adopted by PRONASAR as a model for nationwide implementation, facility construction in schools across the districts of Zambezia and Nampula is underway.
The Ministry of Education’s political will to roll out more inclusive facilities is also evident in the leadership role it has taken during this year’s Menstrual Hygiene day celebrations. In lead up to 28 May, the Ministry mobilised its partners — including the multi-sectoral sanitation group — to participate in a nationwide MHM/ WASH campaign for schools.
Beyond (inclusive) infrastructure development, necessary steps are also being taken by SNV to introduce proper sanitation and hygiene behaviours to school administrators, teachers and students. Part of this is a partnership recently entered into by SNV with Be Girl. Immediately following the facility inauguration at Mopeia district, Be Girl will build the capacity of school teachers to impart good menstrual hygiene management practice, and tackle sensitive issues around the topic of menstruation.
Did you know that 28 May is not just some random date chosen for Menstrual Hygiene Day? 28 May signifies the average duration of a menstrual cycle (28 days), and the average number of days girls and women menstruate (5 days)!
Prepared by: Anjani Abella with David Afonso