Putting the men into menstruation: the role of men and boys in community menstrual hygiene management
This paper examines how men and boys have an essential role in effective menstrual hygiene programmes and describes an initiative to engage men and boys in Uttar Pradesh, India. Cultural norms around menstruation are rooted in gender inequality and compromise women's ability to manage menstruation hygienically and with dignity. While there has been significant progress in developing comprehensive approaches to menstrual hygiene management (MHM), the role of men and boys in supporting menstrual hygiene has been lacking. In India, WaterAid and Vatsalya have targeted men and boys to address this gap in a programme that started in December 2011. Groups of men and boys were established and sensitized. Male teachers and masons were also trained to provide MHM services in school. Regular monitoring of software and hardware components, focus group discussions with male and female community members, and analysis of attendance registers has been undertaken to assess the emerging outcomes of the programme. As a result of the initiative, men and boys have begun to talk about menstruation more freely and are better able to support the MHM needs of women and girls within the household, community, and school.