Early adopters – next step
The earlier topics of hygiene and health are introduced, the better. This is particularly true for questions concerning puberty and menstruation. Far too many girls experience their first period as a traumatic event, which is not only frightening but can also lead to social exclusion. Information in time is essential so that girls have an understanding of what they are going through and have the means to handle their menstruation.
Today, we know what it takes to ensure that all young people have the means to stay healthy. To achieve these goals broad coalitions are needed where all actors come together to drive progress.
Calls for action:
- Make access to clean water sanitation facilities a priority. All children and adolescents need access to clean water and safe sanitation facilities, whether it is at home, at school or out in the community. It is especially important that girls have access to gender segregated hygiene facilities where they feel safe and are able to manage their menstruation.
- Elevate knowledge, attitudes and practices, through public policy tools. Parents, teachers and the wider community has to be given the resources (knowledge and time) and tools to practice safe hygiene habits and teach their children about how to do the same at an early age.
- Make hygiene a priority at school and other places where children are present. All preschools, schools and other places where children are present should have the necessary facilities and training to practice good hygiene, such as hand washing. Hygiene and health-related topics should be included in the curriculum and the root cause for absence rates followed closely.