UNESCO and Procter & Gamble Always? Brand are launching the first good policy and practice?publication?on puberty education and menstrual?hygiene management?at the United Nations in New York on 13 March. The launch will coincide with this year?s United Nations? Commission on the?Status of Women?meeting.

Puberty Education and Menstrual Hygiene Management,?the ninth publication in the UNESCO series?Good Policy and Practice in Health Education,?seeks to help overcome theignorance?and shame millions of girls feel. Puberty is a time of change for all young people, but it is particularly challenging for girls who are?confused?about the changes in their body, which can become a major obstacle to their education. Far too many girls are unprepared for menstruation. In fact, in some parts of the world, two out of three girls reported having no idea of what was happening to them when they began menstruating. This can have many?negative effects?on their physical and emotional development, leading to a drop in self-esteem and poor performance at school.

According to some studies, for example that of?Oxford University?in Ghana*, 95% of girls reported sometimes missing school due to menstruation; and research in Ethiopia** showed that 39% of girls reported reduced performance at school for the same reason. Often the lack of adequate toilet facilities at school, combined with fear and embarrassment further contribute to their disengagement from education at this crucial time in their lives.

?Girls who are afraid to go to school during menstruation have fewer chances of growing up to be fully?empowered women,? argues Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO. ?This publication is an important step in mobilizing the necessary?global support?for equality between?girls and boys?in education. We must mobilize educators, policy-makers, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector to support puberty education and menstrual hygiene management, an indispensable element in efforts to achieve gender equality and access to good education for all learners.?

?An estimated 50 million girls enter puberty every year. This is a?critical life?stage where they acquire fundamentals for hygiene management, develop self-esteem, and build up confidence,? says Edgar Sandoval, Vice President, Global Feminine Care, Procter & Gamble. ?We believe that no girl should have to lose confidence during puberty. The Always? brand has been active for over 30 years providing puberty education to millions of young people around the world. This partnership with UNESCO is enabling us to broaden the significant difference we are making to the lives of young girls today, the women of tomorrow.?

The publication identifies ways for all partners to work together on puberty education and menstrual hygiene management starting in?primary school. It also provides clear recommendations on what is required to remove the stigma associated with menstruation and offer opportunities to all girls to grow up to become fully empowered women.

The publication has been produced as part of the partnership established in 2011 by UNESCO and the Procter and Gamble Always? Brand to work together on the promotion of girls? & young women empowerment.

*Scott L, Dopson S, Montgomery P, Dolan C and Ryus C (2009, draft)?Impact of providing sanitary pads to poor girls in Africa.?University of Oxford

**Abera Y (2004) Menarche, menstruation related problems and practices among adolescent high school girls in Addis Ababa. MSc thesis.


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