“The Door has Opened”: Moving Forward with Menstrual Health Programming in Bangladesh

“The Door has Opened”: Moving Forward with Menstrual Health Programming in Bangladesh

This article examines and reflects upon the Menstrual Health (MH) landscape and programming in Bangladesh, assessing the progress, challenges, and potential ways forward.

In Bangladesh, as elsewhere, menstruation is surrounded by stigma, silence, and shame. Despite being a critical part of women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), it remains significantly under-researched and addressed. However, the focus on MH programming is growing globally, with increased awareness of the importance of holistic and rights-based approaches.

This case study presents an overview of recent MH experiences and programming in Bangladesh. It recognises the different sectors, sites and stakeholders involved, and includes experiences and perspectives of practitioners, academics, and programme participants. It is based on a non-systematic review of recent global and national literature, eight semi-structured interviews, a review of national television adverts and the authors’ experiences of MH research and programming in Bangladesh.

Findings: Hygiene-based education delivered through schools is a common entry point for MH programming in Bangladesh, with limited activities conducted in communities (including with men and boys) and through media. The focus of MH programming has tended to be narrow, with insufficient recognition of the wider gender equality and health implications of menstruation. There are growing efforts to coordinate MH work by different agencies and to collectively advocate for increased government engagement. While significant progress has been made, this case study identifies several gaps and tensions that reflect the complexity of addressing MH.

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