UN-Habitat is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.
Experts from various sectors urged the government to own the initiative
Islamabad – 3 December, 2015: The Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Working Group organised Pakistan’s first ever Symposium on menstrual hygiene management in Islamabad today. Dr. Nausheen Hamid Mairaj, MPA Punjab and Member Health and Gender Mainstreaming attended the event as chief guest. The symposium witnessed the presence of experts from across health, academia, media, private and humanitarian sector who discussed challenges and bottlenecks pertaining to the subject.
The symposium provided first of its kind forum to discuss the future of menstrual hygiene in Pakistan. Experts agreed on formulating a strategy aligned with the vision to tackle issues in Pakistan pertaining to girls and women with regards to MHM. The symposium was set as a firm stage by organizing a series of walks for advocacy throughout the country last month.
Timothy Grieve, WASH Chief, UNICEF commenting in relation to the discussions in the Symposium said, “Fifteen million girls in Pakistan are out of school, some of this is due to lack of proper sanitation and menstrual hygiene facilities available. Research shows that 29% of girls of menstruating age can miss up to 20 days of school per year, this is unacceptable. It is time we all step forward together to improve the lives of millions of girls and women around the country by supporting better Menstrual Hygiene Management.”
Dr. Nausheen Hamid, Chief Guest, while addressing the audience said that, “We need to educate women about the issues related to menarche so they are better prepared to help their daughters and themselves. If women have better knowledge of MHM than it would help the reproductive process management. We need to take this issue at policy level for better MHM policies.”
Dr. Shehla Akram, Dr. Nasir Jamal Khattak, Ms. Bella Evidente, Ms. Asiya Ashraf Chaudhry, and Mr. Matiullah Jan attended the event as expert speakers representing their relevant sector. Organisations like UNICEF, UN-Habitat, WaterAid, Plan International, IRC, Hands, RSPN, Piedar, AHKMT, Save the Children, IRSP, Muslim Aid, NRSP, Agahe, and PIMS also attended the event. The event got wide social media coverage, reaching out to 10 million people through twitter impressions worldwide and trending in Pakistan today through #MHMPakistan.
The event also created a stir in electronic media with leading news channels devoting substantial airtime to the Symposium in peak time news bulletins. Also, print media of the country covered the event as the first-ever symposium of its kind.
Menstruation has always remained a hushed up issue in Pakistan due to cultural constraints. As a result, the needs of women, especially in regards to sanitation, have never been brought to the fore-front. There is a dire need to “break the silence” around MHM in Pakistan through strong advocacy in order to encourage the government and relevant sectors to take action and make commitments.