The deputy secretary-general of the United Nations (UN), Amina Mohammed, says educating boys about menstruation is critical to achieving global sustainable development.
The former minister of environment said “while menstruation is the most natural thing in the world, it often keeps girls out of school and the workplace,” adding that mismanaging menstruation can have “devastating consequences that can last generations”.
“If we are to achieve true gender equality, we need to tackle everything that contributes to the discrimination and marginalization of women — including menstruation,” Mohammed said via a special opinion piece for CNN.
“Women and girls menstruate every month for approximately 35 years — a total number of days that adds up to around seven years.
“For many, that means seven years of anxiety and discomfort because of social stigma. Physical problems are also a major issue — and a barrier to some women achieving their true potential.
“In many countries, girls are kept at home for one week every month because they lack the means to look after themselves during their menstruation.
“This puts a brake on their educational achievement, with severe knock-on effects on their ability to contribute to their families and communities and to society as a whole.”
Speaking on the relationship between menstruation and the sustainable development goals (SDGs), Mohammed said managing healthy menstruation will help achieve the global goals.
“Educating both girls and boys about menstruation as a normal biological process is the first step. Explaining how their body works builds a girl’s confidence and encourages healthy habits.
“Educating boys while their attitudes and beliefs towards girls and women are evolving is critical. We need to spread the word: menstruation is natural and manageable — while it may also be painful, uncomfortable, or plain inconvenient.
“Managing healthy menstruation is a vital part of the United Nations’ efforts to support countries in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — our blueprint for peaceful, prosperous societies on a healthy planet.
“Today, some 60 million 10-year-old girls around the world stand at the threshold of adolescence and menstruation. Let’s do everything we can to invest in menstrual health and end stigma and discrimination. It is time to lift up the rights of girls and women everywhere.”