Jakarta, 28 May 2021 – Every day, approximately 300 million women and girls worldwide menstruate at the same time. Unfortunately, these natural and healthy biological conditions are often still considered dirty and shameful.

In Indonesia, only 25 per cent of children and adolescent girls aged 10-24 years understand this important cycle in their life before they get their first menstruation. One in six female students even prefers not to go to school when they menstruate due to limited sanitation facilities at school plus a lack of knowledge about menstrual hygiene management.

This phenomenon encourages the World Menstrual Hygiene Management Day (MHM) which falls on May 28th. MHM Day aims to break taboos surrounding menstruation, raise awareness of the importance of good menstrual hygiene management worldwide.

In commemoration of MHM Day this year, Yayasan Plan International Indonesia (Plan Indonesia) and partners held a video-making and letter-writing competition about MHM by students in grades 4-6 elementary schools and grade seven to nine in the middle school located in the province of East Nusa Tenggara (Malacca, Belu, and Manggarai regencies) and West Nusa Tenggara (Central Lombok Regency, Sumbawa, and Mataram City) addressed to the mayor/regent in their respective regions. This competition aims to encourage children and young people, especially girls to have the courage and confidence to strategically voice their ideas to policymakers about MHM, an issue that is very important for them.

To commemorate MHM Day 2021, Plan Indoneisa also conducted online seminar on Menstrual Hygiene Management targeting peer educators of Plan Indonesia, youth organizations, school officials, and government partners. This series of activities aims to provide space for children and young people to increase their knowledge and carry out advocacy related to sanitation for women, especially menstrual hygiene management.

“Girls face various challenges during menstruation with the lack of MHM facilities, for example, there are not many separate public toilets for boys and girls to ensure girls can comfortably maintain menstrual hygiene,” said Dini Widiastuti, Executive Director of Plan Indonesia, “in addition to that, girls who menstruate are embarrassed if a male friend finds out that she is menstruating since it’s considered taboo. So it is important to ensure that there is adequate MHM information and facilities for girls as well as educational efforts for boys.” Dini continued.

According to data from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology of Indonesia (2020), 47 per cent of primary schools in Indonesia do not have separate toilets for boys and girls. The results of the analysis of Basic Education Data (Dapodik) in 2017 stated that 12 per cent or around 25,835 schools in Indonesia do not have latrines and a proportional ratio of latrines for boys and girls.

In the COVID-19 pandemic situation, the gap of access to information and services related to MHM is getting bigger for children and young people, especially women. For example, the price of sanitary pads has become more expensive, it is increasingly difficult for children to leave the house to buy sanitary napkins, and school closures have resulted in lower access to education and information related to menstruation.

The issue of menstrual hygiene management is not new in Indonesia. Plan Indonesia has become the first Non-Governmental Organization to pioneer MHM in Indonesia since 2017. Although MHM advocacy has been running for about 4 years, the awareness activities are still important to continue to be promoted using innovative and creative approaches.

“Menstrual hygiene management is not only a women’s business. It needs joint efforts to create conditions in which every adult woman and girls can manage their menstruation hygienically wherever they are in a personal, safe, and dignified manner,” said Dini.

Until 2021, Plan Indonesia has been implementing the MHM program in 104 pilot schools (elementary, middle, and special schools) and provides benefits for 22,653 girls and boys in the Provinces of East Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara. MHM programming these pilot schools are supported by Australian and Netherlands Government through Water for Women and WINNER/WASH SDG Project.

Going forward, Plan Indonesia has an achievement target to advocate for and facilitate the availability of inclusive and accessible toilets, peer educators, and the creation of policies and curricula that support MHM in 72 schools in the two provinces.

“We urge everyone from all sectors to get involved and encourage policymakers to put MHM a part of adolescent reproductive health guidelines,” continued Dini.

Plan Indonesia has worked for 52 years in Indonesia with children and young women and men to break down taboos and barriers to menstrual health so that no one can be limited by menstruation.

Notes to Editor:

About Yayasan Plan International Indonesia (Plan Indonesia)

Plan International has worked in Indonesia since 1969 and has officially become Yayasan Plan International Indonesia (Plan Indonesia) in 2017. We work to fight for the fulfillment of children’s rights and the equality of girls. Plan Indonesia implements its activities through four programs namely, Child Development and Protection, Adolescent Health and Agency, Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship, and Humanitarian and Emergency Response. We work in 7 provinces, including East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara, Central Sulawesi, North Sulawesi, DKI Jakarta, Central Java, and West Java, with a target to empower 1 million girls. Furthermore, Plan Indonesia also sponsored 36 thousand girls and boys in East Nusa Tenggara. For further information: https://plan-international.or.id

About Plan International

Plan International is an international development and humanitarian organization focused on the fulfillment of children’s rights and the equality of girls. We fight for a fair world for the fulfillment of children’s rights and equality for girls, working with children, young people, communities, and partners. Plan International works with children, young people, and the community to address the root causes of discrimination against women, exclusion, and vulnerability. With achievements, experience, and knowledge, Plan International is driving change in local, national, and global practice and policy.

Plan International is not affiliated with a particular religion, political organization, or government. Over 80 years, Plan International has built strong partnerships for children’s rights. We currently work in more than 70 countries. For further information: https://plan-international.org

For further information:

Intan Cinditiara (Olla)  Manajer Media dan Komunikasi  Yayasan Plan International Indonesia  Tel: +62 818 928764  Email: Intan.Cinditiara@plan-international.org Hanna Vanya Programme Communications Specialist  Yayasan Plan International Indonesia  Tel: +62 838 30500394  Email: Hanna.Vanya@plan-international.org