Every month, 1.8 billion people across the world have a period – but millions have to manage theirs without clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene knowledge.

Dirty, broken toilets that don’t lock properly. No running water, or places to wash in privacy. Dangerous misinformation and stigmas that keep menstruation shrouded in shame and secrecy.

All these things don't just cause someone humiliation, they’re unsafe and can have far-reaching impacts that put women and girls at a disadvantage throughout their lives. Many women and girls around world simply have no choice but to stay home every month while menstruating, missing out on vital opportunities to go to school, earn a living, and take control of their futures.

Tackling taboos

We encourage young people to talk about periods openly – like in this community awareness-raising session in New Delhi, India, where adolescent girls learn about menstruation and good hygiene, free from stigma or judgement.

Image: WaterAid/ Srishti Bhardwaj

Keeping girls in the classroom

A combination of shame, limited access to products, and a lack of decent toilets can force girls to miss school when they have their period – causing them to fall further and further behind in their classes, and sometimes dropping out entirely.

Meet Rihanata, Pushpa, and Twiringiyimana – three girls who aren't letting periods hold them back in school:

Developing skills – and self-confidence

Over a two-day training course run by our local partner in Kavre, Nepal, Sangita learned how to make reusable cotton sanitary pads, as well as how to stay healthy while on her period.

Sangita, 32, holds up a finished reusable sanitary pad. 'Ready made pads are costly and if you do not dispose of them properly it will pollute the environment.' Banepa Municipality, Kavre District, Nepal, August 2018.;
Image: WaterAid/ Mani Karmacharya

The homemade pads are more hygienic than using old pieces of cloth, and cheaper than buying disposable ones. And, especially important in a district struggling to manage its solid waste effectively, they don’t risk polluting local water sources.

For Sangita, though, the benefits don’t end there.

A few months after the initial session, she was invited to share her knowledge with another group, giving her the opportunity to connect with more local women. And, after making a name for herself, she completed a large commercial order – something she plans to pursue as a part-time job once her children are in school.

I used to be very shy while talking about menstruation. But I’m not shy anymore. The training gave me an extra skill in my life.
Sangita Shestha, Kavre, Nepal

Supporting young people with disabilities

People with disabilities, like Meena, often face extra challenges and discrimination when they're menstruating. Our project in Nepal helped young people with learning disabilities develop their self-confidence and understanding of how to manage their periods safely.

Meena Bogati, 22, and her mother Kanchhi Bogati, holding tools from the 'Bishesta' campaign, outisde Banepa Muncipality office, Kavre, Nepal, December 2018.;
Image: WaterAid/ Shruti Shrestha

Donate today

Your support can help us reach more people with the clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene they need to manage their periods safely and with dignity.

HerWASH: Menstrual Health and Sexual and Reproductive Health

Learn more about HerWASH, a four-year program focused on improving menstrual health and hygiene for women and girls in Burkina Faso, Liberia, Pakistan, and Sierra Leone.

Discover more

Explore research, guidance, and expert-led insights into water, sanitation and menstrual hygiene on our policy and practice site.