Guest Post by Jeannette Murekatate, Health and Hygiene Manager
That’s exactly what we did in Rwanda on May 27 by organizing 2030 students (both boys and girls), teachers, and community leaders, in celebration of Menstrual Hygiene Day 2016. This year’s theme focused on “He for SHE”, serving as a call to action for Rwandan boys and men to engage in conversations with girls and women about the significance of good menstrual hygiene habits, and the role these habits play in the health and well-being of all girls and women.
The day’s activities included skits written and performed by students to illustrate the challenges girls encounter while managing their period at school and at home, an all-girl soccer match, and a fact or fiction menstrual health crossword puzzle. In an epic win (2-0), G.S. Gikaya school was declared the game-winner, and SHE awarded each girl a t-shirt in addition to their very own pack of go! pads.
Alphonse Ngarambe, The Director of Health in the Kayonza district, delivered a speech directed to young men, reminding them they can play a role in promoting good menstrual hygiene by starting conversations about menstruation with other men to reduce the stigma and shame that many fellow girl students feel while menstruating at school. He ended his speech with a note of hope, saying “Abishyize hamwe nta kibananira,” or “Together, all things are possible.”
Providing girls and women information about menstruation and their health, in addition to ensuring affordable access to menstrual products, is not just about health and hygiene – it’s also about affirming their agency and their rights. SHE28 extends beyond our work and collaboration with girls and women to include boys and men, because when everyone is engaged, everyone wins.