June 14, 2021 – In celebration of Menstrual Hygiene Day, the Department of Education (DepEd) on Friday showcased the #MeronAko campaign, which aimed to reduce stigma on menstruation and provide support for girls during their period.
Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) refers to women and adolescent girls using clean hygienic materials to absorb and collect menstrual blood. It also includes having access to facilities where they can clean themselves and change menstrual pads in privacy. With MHM, women and girls also understand their menstrual cycle and are able to manage their menstruation with dignity and without shame.
As part of DepEd’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools Program or WinS Program, the #MeronAko campaign focuses on educating learners, teachers, and schools about MHM. With support from UNICEF, the #MeronAko is currently being piloted in Northern Samar with the aim of scaling it up for national implementation. Developed in 2018 in collaboration with the Center for Health Solutions and Innovations, Inc. (CHSI), the campaign transforms the sad expression “Meron Ako”, commonly used to signify having periods, into a positive message. It affirms that even when one has a period, an adolescent girl can still do the things she wants to do and become what she wishes to be.
“[We believe that] healthy learners are better learners, and water, sanitation, and hygiene are crucial in menstrual hygiene management among girls. DepEd will ensure that our learners will reach their fullest potential by ensuring healthy and enabling learning environments. This starts by providing them an avenue to break the taboo on getting periods,” Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said.
Because periods do not stop for pandemics, the #MeronAko campaign also developed distance learning tools to reach adolescent girls and boys with MHM messages at home during the COVID pandemic. A set of age-appropriate videos on menstruation and MHM is accessible in the CHSI You Tube channel for use by teachers and pupils.
Together with UNICEF, Save the Children, and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) Philippines, the Department on Friday also hosted an MHM webinar titled “Action and Investments on Menstrual Hygiene Management in the Philippines” to educate learners on menstrual health and hygiene.
Since 2017, DepEd, through the WinS Program, has monitored the availability of and access to water, sanitation facilities, and sanitary pads of around 32,619 elementary schools and 7,915 secondary schools to check whether Philippine schools have MHM-friendly spaces.
According to the WinS Monitoring Results Philippines for Menstrual Hygiene Management, there is a huge improvement in all indicators on MHM in School Year (SY) 2019-2020 compared to the data from SY 2018-2019, which showed a higher toilet to pupil ratio indicating fewer girls had to share a facility.
Amid the halt of face-to-face classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department has continued several initiatives to engage learners, teachers, and non-teaching staff such as making learning guide booklets on making reusable pads available online on the DepEd WinS Website and DepEd Commons. A set of #MeronAko videos on menstruation and MHM are accessible in the CHSI YouTube channel for use as learning materials.
WinS Program is one of the flagship programs under the Oplan Kalusugan sa DepEd, which is the convergence of DepEd’s school health and nutrition programs. Other programs under the OK sa DepEd are the School-Based Feeding Program, the National Drug Education Program, Adolescent Reproductive Health, School Mental Health, and Medical, Dental, and Nursing Services.