Reducing menstruation stigma in the Solomon Islands

In the Solomon Islands, Live & Learn is turning old attitudes and poor understandings of menstruation around and improving the lives of women and girls.

Through the Urban Water Supply Sanitation program, implemented alongside Solomon Water and Plan Australia, Live & Learn Solomon Islands is increasing awareness and understanding of menstruation in communities across Honiara.

An eight-day Menstrual Hygiene Awareness workshop was held for the six project communities of Kobito 1, Kobito 2, Kobito 3, Mamulele, Green Valley and Independence Valley. With more than 200 people attending, Live & Learn Solomon Islands focused on finding out what people believed about menstruation and worked to provide them with a better understanding of it.

‘Both men and women were challenged on the importance of improving menstrual hygiene,’ said Caroline Saemala, WASH Officer for Live & Learn Solomon Islands. ‘That requires both men and women to have the correct knowledge about menstruation, to know there are a variety of appropriate menstrual hygiene products, to understand the importance of access to sanitation facilities in the household and in the community.’

children and adults dancing

One community leader stressed the importance of men learning about menstruation, Caroline said. ‘He said that even though it does not happen to men, when our wives and daughters are sick, it will also be our problem, so we need to do something about it.’

Another participant described how the workshop had changed his attitude. ‘It was very awkward for me, but I remained patient and listened to the discussion,’ he said. ‘As a father, I realised my role is to be supportive to my wife and children.’

Afterwards, he ensured his household was sanitary and safe for his wife and daughters, so they can manage their menstruation in a healthy way. He now also aims to act as a role model for other men to change their behaviour around menstruation as well.