Urge UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to endorse the Dignified Menstruation Day
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His Excellency António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations
Through Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General
Dear Mr Secretary General,
The menstruation has existed in this universe for the last four billion years, from the beginning of the Home Sapience. Regardless of class, caste, religion, region, pandemics, the taboos, stigma and restrictions around menstruation are practiced not only in the global south but also in the global north with difference in the names, severity, forms and visibility. Despite having advancement in science and technology, menstruation is heavily ignored and remains an issue of silence in a course of human right, development and feminist movement till 2012. In 2012, it was looked through a hygiene framework, focusing on hygiene which reinforced the notion that menstrual blood is dirty or impure (positive-negative connotation) though it is an important element for dignified menstruation.
Menstruation is beyond the five days of bleeding or 60 ml blood. It is complex, multifaceted, and inevitable natural phenomena. It impacts on all aspects of menstruator's (girls, women, transmen, queer) life at both immediate and long term. More importantly, it constructs and shapes the power within boys and girls since childhood, 6-12 years of their age where girls considered as impure, powerless, inferior, obliged for silence and eventually a victim of child marriage, sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, dowry, absenteeism in school etc. On the other hand, boys are constructed as pure, powerful, privileged and eventually converted to perpetrators. Globally, the most unsafe place is home and most common perpetrators are men thus it is urgent to deconstruct this power dynamic through dialogue on menstruation since childhood or home.
Global policies addressing peace and equality have also remained silenced to issues surrounding menstruation. In the 72 years of history of WHO, menstruation is never considered as a priority. WHO developed a comprehensive SRHR (Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights) package which fails to mention menstruation, a key component of SRHR. Dialogue about menstruation is essential to normalize the reproductive system, obtain bodily literacy, and to gain the confidence to utilize the services regards to family planning or safe abortion or breast or uterus cancer or any elements of SRHR (Paudel et al., 2020). Likewise, the silver jubilee of ICPD (International Convention on Population and Development) and 42 years of CEDAW (Article, 1: discrimination) or UNSCR 1325 also do not consider the abuses, discrimination, violence imposed by menstrual practices for women's participation in politics and peace. The reports and discussions of CEDAW put menstrual practice under the harmful traditional practices (Article five, Sex Roles and Stereotyping) like ....such as FGM (Female Genital Mutation), Child Marriage, Chhaupadi.... Thus, the global community fails to analyze the global scope of menstruation and the cause-effect relationship between menstrual practices and other traditional harmful practices. Indeed, the menstrual practice is cause and effect for child marriage. Similarly, the WHO said that one woman out of three experienced the SGBV (Sexual and Gender Based Violence) which is only the tip of the iceberg because it does not consider any act against a person's associated with menstrual practice as defined by the UN for SGBV. Amid COVID-19, Pandemic proved again two specific things; home is not safe for menstruators and SGBV increased by 30 % globally. Additionally, even the developed countries e.g. Wuhan, China, failed to recognize the needs and priorities of menstruators while working as frontline workers of COVID-19 responses due to deep stigma, taboos and restrictions around menstruation(Li, 2020).
Menstruation is beyond the reproductive years, it is the whole lifetime experience of human life. Thus, simply, dignified menstruation (dignity during menstruation) is a `state of free from any forms of abuse, discrimination, violence associated with menstruation'. Further, on a deeper level, dignified menstruation means three `P'; Principally, Practically and Psychologically. For details: https://dignifiedmenstruation.org/
In this connection, Global South Coalition for Dignified Menstruation (GSCDM) and Radha Paudel Foundation jointly initiated Dignified Menstruation Day as a 16 days activism for December 8 since 2019. There are wide scale activism taking place in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Pacific region, Philippines, Uganda, UK, USA. Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizen, Nepal Government endorsed Dignified Menstruation day and implementing varieties of activities as various levels including the virtual international conference on dignified Menstruation https://dignifiedmenstruation.org/mensturationandcovid/virtual-conference-on-dignified-menstruation-amid-covid-19-pandemic/
In order to reconstruct the power and justice from home, prevent SGBV, improve SRHR, we, GSCDM, urged UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to endorse the Dignified Menstruation Day as a 16 days activism for December 8. More importantly, it is the acknowledgement of human existence, building the agency of each girl (menstruators) and committing to ensure the dignity that they deserve as a virtue of human beings.
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