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Talking about the taboo: Women's menstrual practices and sanitation in Africa
Date:5/27/2011

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- University of Maryland researcher Vivian Hoffmann has studied poverty, migration, and economic development in Africa and elsewhere, and she has first-hand experience with issues facing women in the developing world. Now, through a $1.3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, she will lead a team of researchers in a project that will shed light on women's menstrual practices, needs, and product demands and help to inform sanitation planning in developing countries.

Although expanding and improving access to sanitation services is recognized as a critical challenge to improving global public health, little attention has been paid thus far to women's menstrual management practices. "There is anecdotal evidence that menstrual management issues have a real impact on the lives and opportunities of girls and women in low-income countries," said Hoffmann who is a professor in the University of Maryland's Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. "This study will give us reliable insight into those impacts and may spur innovation in the design and marketing of menstrual management products for low-income markets," she added.

Beliefs and behaviors related to menstrual management are an important factor: "They will make up an important part of our comprehensive literature review, and we expect to see an emphasis on the existing stigma, taboos, and secrecy that continue to exist around this topic, all of which pose challenges for adolescent girls and women's management of menstruation in public spaces such as the marketplace, or the school," Hoffmann noted.

The project represents a mammoth undertaking. No fewer than five other organizations will mobilize resources to bring off the study, which is scheduled to be completed within two years. It will involve detailed case studies, focus groups, household surveys, interviews with experts, and clinical studies in one of the selected communities. <
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Contact: Vivian Hoffmann
VHOFFMANN@AREC.UMD.EDU
301-405-1265
University of Maryland
Source:Eurekalert  

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Talking about the taboo: Women's menstrual practices and sanitation in Africa
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