On International Menstrual Health Day, Plan International is drawing attention to the impact of the global humanitarian crisis on women and girls. In Haiti, widespread hunger and gang violence have created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, leaving many girls and women unable to afford basic sanitary products such as sanitary pads. Daphne de Bordes, deputy director of Plan International Haiti, emphasizes that the country’s crisis has made girls and women increasingly vulnerable. She states that “you can’t ignore menstrual health.”
Globally, at least 500 million girls and women lack access to menstrual hygiene needs such as sanitary pads and clean toilets. This crisis is particularly severe in countries with widespread hunger. At least 345 million people in 82 countries are severely food insecure, and 50 million are at risk of starvation. The girls in these areas are the most affected by this crisis.
Sofiana, a 13-year-old girl living in southeastern Haiti, faces challenges in managing her menstrual health due to the hunger crisis. She sometimes finds it difficult to buy sanitary pads because she doesn’t have enough money. Many Haitian girls face daily challenges to manage their periods with dignity, including long and dangerous journeys to access clean water.
Due to the lack of menstrual health information and support services, many girls in Haiti and other countries face shame and embarrassment at school and at home because of menstruation. As a result, every month many girls miss school during menstruation, falling behind in their studies and often dropping out of school.
However, in response to the crisis in Haiti, Plan International has provided sanitary towels, soap, water purification tablets, and more. They have delivered more than 1,000 hygiene kits to each home in the affected areas, including menstrual health kits. Plan International believes that every girl and woman should enjoy sexual and reproductive health and rights and that no one’s well-being should be limited by menstruation.
Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organization that promotes children’s rights and equality for girls. Working with children, young people, advocates, and partners, they address the root causes of poverty, violence, exclusion, and discrimination. They support the rights of children from birth to adulthood and help them prepare and respond to crises and adversity. They use their reach, experience, and knowledge to drive practice and policy change at local, national, and global levels. Plan International has built strong partnerships for children for over 80 years and is now active in over 80 countries.