U.S COMMITTEE FOR REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS
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Three Reasons to Prioritize Menstrual Health in Displacement Settings

By USCRI May 28, 2024

When conflict, climate, or other extraordinary circumstances force people to flee, their access to resources and essential services cease; however, menstruation does not.

 

Menstruation, commonly referred to as a period, is often stigmatized. Many find it awkward or unnecessary to talk about. Yet it is one of the most important conversations for the global community to have.

As we mark Menstrual Hygiene Day, here are three reasons to prioritize menstrual health in displacement settings.

HEALTH

Often in conflict and crises, access to medical care is already strained, and at times nonexistent. This includes a lack of access to menstrual hygiene products—such as sanitary pads—and no clean water and sanitation facilities. In refugee camps or informal settlements, many times clinics are overcapacity and underfunded. When women and girls do not have access to medical centers, it is a loss of safe space where they would typically be able to seek information, materials, and care to manage menstruation.

Without materials like sanitary pads, women and girls often resort to using and reusing unsanitary pieces of cloth, causing infection and other health risks.

 

EDUCATION

Menstruation has a serious impact on girls’ enrollment in school, particularly at the secondary level. When dealing with the medical implications of period pain or resulting infections from lack of resources, girls may not be able to be present and engaged in their classes. Poor toilet facilities and a lack of menstrual products often force girls in displacement settings to miss weeks of school at a time or to drop out altogether.

Due to funding cuts, menstrual hygiene kits once distributed by UN agencies and humanitarian partners are increasingly unavailable, seriously impacting girls’ education.

 

PARTICIPATION

High levels of stigma and discrimination within communities around menstruation can hinder women and girls’ ability to participate in society and interact with others. A lack of menstrual health education can keep women and girls from experiencing their periods with dignity and confidence. False information about menstruation can thrive in environments of secrecy, which can cause women, girls, and people who menstruate to experience significant stigmatization.

No one should be excluded from daily activities because of menstruation, yet this is the reality for many. Periods are natural and normal. Tackling the shame around menstruation is necessary to ensure health, education, and full participation in society for every person who menstruates.

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Over 90,000 school-aged girls are living in refugee camps in Kenya. Their safety and well-being are at risk when they get their period and do not have access to menstrual hygiene products. This impacts their health, education, and participation in their communities.

USCRI launched the Keep Girls Dreaming initiative in October 2023 and collaborated with Chandaria Industries, a local Kenyan manufacturer of hygiene products, to address this need. In just a few months, Keep Girls Dreaming raised enough funds to purchase, deliver, and distribute over half a million sanitary pads to Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps. In January 2024, USCRI delivered enough sanitary pads to support nearly 5,000 girls for one year.

A gift to the Keep Girls Dreaming initiative provides vital menstrual hygiene products to girls in Kenya’s refugee camps.

This helps her stay healthy, stay in school, stay dreaming. Period.

You can learn more and give now to Keep Girls Dreaming by clicking here


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