SA co-hosts first regional menstrual health symposium

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Department of Women, together with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), will co-host the first ever symposium on menstrual health management in East and Southern Africa.

The symposium, to be held in Johannesburg from 28 - 29 May, aims to strengthen commitment, to move from research to action, and demonstrate innovative, sustainable and scalable models to address the menstrual health management needs of adolescent girls and women in East and Southern Africa. 

Maintaining health and hygiene during menstruation by providing girls and women with the necessary information, supplies and facilities required to manage their menstruation is important for girls and women’s health, well-being, mobility and dignity.

However, many girls and women in East and Southern Africa, especially those who live in poor areas and those that have been displaced or affected by emergencies, do not have access to appropriate information and menstrual health and management facilities and products that are accessible, effective, comfortable, convenient, affordable and safe to use.

As a celebration of womanhood, the symposium aims to change the narrative, break down taboos and build positive social norms around the subject, as the onset of puberty and the menstruation cycle is a fundamental and healthy aspect of girls and women's very existence.

The expected outcomes of the symposium include strengthened policy, programme and financial commitment on programmatic priorities to address challenges related to menstrual health management in Africa. A regional coalition on menstrual health management will also be launched.

The symposium will bring together about 200 representatives from national governments, academic institutions, NGOs, donors, United Nations agencies, private sector organisations, youth-led organisations and social entrepreneurs.

Minister of Women in the Presidency, Bathabile Dlamini and UNFPA Regional Director Dr Julitta Onabanjo, will officially open the symposium, where they will be joined by Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu, Small Business Minister Lindiwe Zulu and Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, Pam Tshwete. –