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The Silence of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals on Menstrual Hygiene and Health

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By Kirsty Nash

Abstract: This paper explores the stigma surrounding menstruation, demonstrating how efforts to break the stigma through Menstrual Health & Hygiene initiatives are critical to the fulfilment of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The research has indicated that frameworks set out by WaterAid, FSG and UNICEF have provided a basis for international development efforts in addressing the impacts of menstrual stigma through integrated and community-based Menstrual Health and Hygiene Interventions. The analysis of the aims and targets set out by the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda has indicated that addressing menstruation is critical to a multitude of targets, and ultimately the Sustainable Development Goals as a whole. Finally, the case study of Chhaupadi has demonstrated the main impacts of menstrual stigma on gender equality in the Global South. 

The paper indicates that initiatives must extend beyond sanitation and hygiene, encompassing broader outcomes of human rights, well-being, and education, to ultimately overcome deeply rooted menstrual stigma. The paper concludes with recommendations for the integration of Menstrual Health and Hygiene into the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Key words:
Menstrual Health & Hygiene; United Nations; Sustainable Development Goals; Community-based Interventions; Human Rights; Wellbeing; Global South; Gender Equality; Sexual and Reproductive Health; Menstrual Equity 

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