​​Menstrual health as a human rights issue: the new "MenstruAR" program in Argentina

​​Menstrual health as a human rights issue: the new "MenstruAR" program in Argentina
Image from the Argentinian Government Database


Laura Hochheim Thomé 

Women’s Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence.

The lack of access to menstrual hygiene with dignity plays a fundamental role in the integrity, health and education of girls, women, trans men and non-binary people who menstruate. According to the World Bank (2022) is estimated that 500 million people worldwide lack access to menstrual products and adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene. The debate has been increasingly addressed and recognized as a human rights, gender equality and public health issue, where countries are adopting measures, public policies and projects to address it in terms of access to information, reduction or elimination of taxation of menstrual products and increase the access to quality menstrual products, as it is the case of Argentina. 

On the 29th of May, the Minister of Women, Gender, and Diversity of Argentina (DNEIyG, acronym in Spanish), Ayelén Mazzina, launched the National Menstrual Management Programme called "MenstruAR". The initiative is meant for provincial and municipal governments with the purpose of eliminating the inequality factor that menstruation implies and equalizing access to menstrual management, information, and health. By guaranteeing access to supplies, the programme also provides training instances and workshops on menstrual management as a human right and comprehensive sexual education in community settings (Gobierno de Argentina, 2023). 

The "MenstruAR" Program constitutes a consolidation of the Menstrual Management Line, created in March 2022 within the framework of the National Directorate for Articulation of Comprehensive Equality Policies. Since its implementation, 1,568 people from 27 locations in the country have been trained and more than 10,000 menstrual cups have been delivered. Technical assistance in the preparation and presentation of ordinances on menstrual management was also provided to 26 municipalities that did not have such legislation. Besides the launch of the programme, two documents developed in collaboration between the MMGyD and the SES Foundation (Sustainability, Education, Solidarity) with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) were presented. The "Menstrual Management as a Right" and the report "Diagnosis on the Use and Perception of Menstrual Management Supplies", are aimed toward social organizations and local governments interested in addressing the issue from a gender, diversity and disability perspective (Gobierno de Argentina, 2023). 

In the context of widespread socioeconomic inequality, an item that should be basic ends up becoming a luxury item. The challenges go beyond the lack of pads, but encompass health, education, infrastructure and basic sanitation, and have clear contours of class, race and cisnormativity. It is a multi-dimensional issue that requires multi-sectoral interventions and a holistic approach (World Bank, 2022). 

Sources and further readings:

Gobierno de Argentina (May 29, 2023). Ayelén Mazzina presentó el Programa Nacional de Gestión Menstrual “MenstruAR". Retrieved on June 01, 2023 from https://www.argentina.gob.ar/noticias/ayelen-mazzina-presento-el-programa-nacional-de-gestion-menstrual-menstruar 

World Bank (May 12, 2022). ​​Menstrual Health and Hygiene. Retrieved on June 01, 2023 from https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/water/brief/menstrual-health-and-hygiene#:~:text=On%20any%20given%20day%2C%20more,menstrual%20hygiene%20management%20(MHM)

Página 12 (May 29, 2023). ¿En qué consiste el Programa MenstruAR del Ministerio de Mujeres, Género y Diversidad? Retrieved on June 01, 2023 from https://www.pagina12.com.ar/553481-lanzan-el-programa-menstruar-para-extender-el-acceso-al-dere 

Ministerio de Economia Argentina; UNICEF (February, 2022). Acceso a la gestión menstrual para más igualdad Herramientas y acciones para gobiernos locales. Retrieved on June 01, 2023 from https://www.argentina.gob.ar/sites/default/files/2022/03/gestion_menstrual_para_mas_igualdad.pdf 

UNICEF (n.d.). Menstrual hygiene: Gender inequality, cultural taboos and poverty can cause menstrual health needs to go unmet. Retrieved on June 01, 2023 from https://www.unicef.org/wash/menstrual-hygiene 

Fundacíon SES; Ministerio De Las Mujeres, Géneros Y Diversidad De Argentina; UNFPA (December, 2021). Diagnóstico sobre uso y percepción de insumos de gestión menstrual. Retrieved on June 01, 2023 from https://www.argentina.gob.ar/sites/default/files/2023/05/informe_de_sistematizacion_diagnostico_gm.pdf