Menstruation and Body Awareness: Linking Girls’ Health with Girls’ Education

This paper examines the relationships between adolescent girls’ health and well-being, with a particular emphasis on the intersection between post-pubescent girls’ menstrual management and education. The paper focuses on developing country contexts, such as sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, where physical, socio-cultural, and economic challenges may render girls’ menstrual management in school particularly difficult. We begin with a general introduction on menstruation issues for girls, and then focus on its relationship to girls’ educational participation and success. We examine how poor sanitary facilities, provision of sanitary supplies, and educational practices can impact negatively on girls in terms of school access and experience. We also examine the possibilities for school-based programs to address some of these menstrual or maturation-related concerns and to improve the situation for post-pubescent girls. We end with a series of broad, overarching recommendations for further work on this topic, including a call for additional research, policy and programming on this critical issue for girls.

Royal Tropical Institute
Sommer M, Kirk J