Across the developing world, the number one reason girls drop out of school is the lack of water and sanitation infrastructure to support their periods. Cultural stigmas, religious beliefs, and lack of information cause adolescent girls to feel ashamed of menstruation, as they experience teasing and/or fear of the unknown. Without the knowledge and facilities that they need, most girls will choose to stay home during mensuration rather than face potential disgrace, and thus fall behind in their classes. Menstruation, a girl's natural physiology, shouldn't keep girls from going to school.
In 2016, the UMCOR Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) program expanded its focus to include facets of menstrual hygiene management (MHM) to empower girls to complete their educations. You can support these WASH programs by donating to Advance #3020600.
The WASH program supports adolescent girls in vulnerable communities by providing access to clean water, soap, separate latrines, sanitary products, and puberty education. Following World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF best-practices, these programs are implemented in partnership with UMC schools, churches, and health boards.
| Infographic: WASH UNITED
In 2017, UMCOR's MHM integrated programs are supporting girls in 12 countries, but it is not just the girls who benefit. Male and female teachers receive training in MHM and participate in health education alongside students and their parents. Educational booklets are also made available for students and teachers. WASH clubs with MHM activities are also encouraged in schools. Comprehensive MHM and sustainable development go together, reinforcing six of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals, targeting gender equity in education, sanitation access, and workforce development. Most of all, MHM is foundational to female dignity.
To meet these WASH program goals, Global Ministries' Global Health Unit offers grants to UMC partners around the world, supporting a holistic approach to community-based health and development.
To learn more about the WASH program, contact Lorrie King, WASH, Food Security, and Livelihoods Programs Manager and first U.S. Ambassador for Global Menstrual Hygiene Day 2014.
Bella DiFilippo, Program Area Liaison from Communications for Global Ministries and Lorrie King, Program Manager for UMCOR WASH
The Advance is the accountable, designated-giving arm of The United Methodist Church. The Advance invites contributors to designate support for projects related to the General Board of Global Ministries. Individuals, local churches, organizations, districts and annual conferences may donate to The Advance. One hundred percent of every gift to The Advance goes to the project selected by the giver.