The reality for millions of people is that they menstruate with shame, unsafely and unhygienically. The taboo and stigma that accompanies menstruation in many communities creates inequalities around the world. According to UNICEF, around 500 million women and girls lack access to clean bathrooms and facilities to take care of their menstruation. In Latin America, sexual and reproductive education is not a priority and many women and girls know little about menstruation.
In the case of Argentina where around 10 million people menstruate, low-income women face barriers when accessing female hygiene products. Tampons and pads have a 21% tax making it difficult for many to afford these essential products. At the same time, a lack of information about their own bodies and sexuality continues to produce high rates of teen pregnancy. According to UNFPA, 300 children in Argentina are born from teen moms every day and 6 out of 10 teenagers drop out of school to take care of their babies.
Earlier this year, Pro Mujer partnered with Johnson & Johnson to launch the Una Para Vos, Una Para Todas (One for you, One for All) Campaign. With this initiative, our health and education teams were able provide menstruation education and female hygiene products to 21,000 women and girls across Argentina. For instance, at one hospital in Salta, we were able to provide hygiene products to mothers who were taking care of their children and had no access to female pads. These women often come from rural areas having to travel long distances to reach the hospital.
Before COVID-19, our health workshops took place in person at Pro Mujer clinics and Service Centers. As lockdown measures were implemented by the government, Pro Mujer developed and implemented a new outreach strategy leveraging our online platforms to deliver virtual workshops.
As for distributing female hygiene products, outdoor sessions with strict social distancing and health guidelines allowed us to continue providing these essential items to our beneficiaries.
“At Pro Mujer, our priority is to ensure women have access to information and the tools they need to thrive. In Latin America, sexual and reproductive education is not a priority and many women and girls know little about their own bodies. It is why we will continue to lead campaigns like this so women can live autonomous lives,” said our Global Health Program Officer, Maria Fernanda Diaz de la Vega.