Menstrual health management is directly linked to the fulfilment of human rights and specifically reproductive rights, both as a precondition for attaining rights such as health or education, and also as a matter of dignity in its own right. It is an integral component to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and essential for the advancement of the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development in Africa Beyond 2014 and the African Union Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.
It is essential that girls, women and other people who menstruate are provided with the necessary information, resources and support to manage their menstrual needs throughout the lifecycle- from menarche to menopause, including during emergencies. Humanitarian and health emergencies and crises, as well as conflicts, and natural disasters exacerbate the challenges faced by those who menstruate. The need to implement and monitor additional measures for menstrual health management in emergencies cannot be overemphasized.
Concerned by the alarming levels of the spread and severity of the Coronavirus, WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11 March 2020. That led to the implementation of stringent prevention and risk mitigation measures such as lockdowns in Africa and globally, in the form of sudden and abrupt restrictions on the movements of people, goods, and services. However, the sexual and reproductive health needs of all women, girls and all people who menstruate did not pause or stop.
About this position paper
This position paper was informed by lessons from various sources, specifically from the virtual dialogue organized by UNFPA, Days for Girls and the African Coalition for Menstrual Health Management (ACMHM, held on 27 May 2020 and titled: Menstrual Health Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa – What Have We Learnt?.