School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension host colloquium on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in the Workplace

By Diana Meso (Courtesy of Iris Group)

In an online colloquium organized by the School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension (SGSR&E) on Thursday, March 3, Dr. Whitney Fry, a Global Health and Gender Specialist and a Senior Associate at Iris Group, led discussions on the key findings after a nine-month action research study on Menstrual Health Hygiene Management (MHM) in the Workplace.

The research conducted in two Kenyan workplaces: Shona EPZ and Thika Cloth Mills, was to determine if providing adequate MHM in the workplace contributes to improved business and social outcomes, including women’s economic empowerment as well as assess the benefits and costs of improved MHM in the workplace for women workers and the enterprises that employ them.

The research involved three stages of intervention which were in partnership with the companies under study;

  • Products and Infrastructure: The research team distributed 32,172 disposable menstrual pads, 350 packs of reusable menstrual pads and cups, upgraded 6 toilet facilities, held sensitization sessions with 6 cleaners and facilitated 4 menstrual product education sessions in the two organizations.
  • Workplace policies and guidance: The research team conducted policy analysis, developed 10 high-level policy recommendations which some were incorporated into the company policies.
  • Workplace Culture: The research team recruited 6 MHM champions, created ¬2 WhatsApp groups and disseminated 17 digital posters to each, facilitated 2 appreciative inquiry workshops, conducted 14 sensitization sessions among key populations and created 32 Behavior Change Communication (BCC) products in Swahili and English

The research findings presented by Ms. Joan Njagi, a Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) research consultant, showed that increased access to menstrual products (which was the key intervention of the study) contributed to decreased anxiety at work, increased product choice, reduced use of poor-quality products and reduced financial burden.

Additionally, through infrastructure-related improvements like installing shelves and stalls in the washroom as well providing water taps in the toilet stalls so that menstruating people can wash their menstrual products in privacy, the research reports that there was reduced stress, increased toilet access and increased access to supplies.

Moreover, through MHM sensitization & BCC efforts, there was increased MHM knowledge, improved menstrual waste disposal practices, increased confidence to manage menstruation and increased understanding of menstruation-related needs.

Comprehensively, improved MHM in the workplace contributed to a more supportive working environment by reducing menstrual stigma and psychosocial stress as well as increasing self-efficacy. It further contributed to better outcomes for women and business by reducing absenteeism, increasing job satisfaction and improvements in productivity.

Breaking down the economic implications of having improved workplace MHM, Dr. Jake Eaton Senior Associate at Iris Group reported that from the two companies under study, for every Kes 100 invested in improving MHM in the workplace, there was Kes 154 return in benefits within the study period. Additionally, Dr. Eaton said that if the intervention continues for 2 years, then for every Kes 100 invested, there will be Kes 313 return in benefits under base-case scenario.

Dr. Michael Kihara, Associate Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, in his closing remarks as the moderator, thanked the presenters for their efforts to create awareness and help sensitize on the challenges faced by menstruating people and how to make them comfortable during such times.

More information on this research can be found here:

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