HRC 50 – EU Intervention: Panel discussion on Menstrual Hygiene Management, Human Rights and Gender Equality

(Source: EEAS)

Mister President,

The EU is concerned that menstruation continues to be surrounded by harmful gender stereotypes, stigma and discriminatory practices in every society. The full realization of menstrual health is key for the enjoyment of all human rights and the achievement of gender equality.

Missinformation and taboos surrounding menstruation reinforce discrimination and subject women and girls to further risk of marginalization and violence. Challenging prevailing negative social norms, perceptions and harmful practices around menstruation is fundamental in ensuring that adolecent girls continue their education, and that women and girls can fulfill their potential. To address this, as the EU, we continue taking steps towards and advocating for increased involvement of boys and men in addressing root causes of gender equality, including when related to menstruation. Our projects and programs also pay increased attention to  multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination – women and girls with disabilities, women in custody or jail for example, are often severely and disproportionally affected.

Legal, social and cultural barriers are exacerbated by economic barriers, including the costs of menstrual products. Access to free or affordable menstrual products is important in all contexts, including in conflict-affected settings. Many EU Member States invest in affordable, safe and reusable period products, including in schools and universities, and we are open to share our experiences in this regard.

Achieving menstrual health is however also, inter alia, an issue of access to appropriate water, hygiene and sanitation facilities, with menstrual hygiene management being a key element of the rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.  The EU underscores the right to fully participate in all spheres of life during ones menstrual cycle, without any form of discrimination and or being hindered by socio-, economic- cultural or religious practices and restrictions.

The EU continues to support the improvement of menstrual health and hygiene management measures internationally, with increased funding to United Nations Population Fund (more than 75 Million since 2021) and various civil society partners working in line with our commitment to the European Consensus on Development. We remain committed to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and to the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the outcomes of their review conferences and remains committed to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), in this context. Having that in mind, the EU reaffirms its commitment to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the right of every individual to have full control over, and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality and sexual and reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion and violence. The EU further stresses the need for universal access to quality and affordable comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information, education, including comprehensive sexuality education and health-care services.

Distinguished panellists,

We are concerned about the impact of harmful practices and taboos regarding menstruation on the rights of women and girls, including their right to to participate equally in social, economic and politcial life. How do we ensure this matter is kept high on the global agenda and is adequately addressed, across sectors and including in situations of armed conflict and humanitarian situations?

Thank you.

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