MENSTRUAL HEALTH AT WORK

Workplaces with menstrual hygiene products report increased productivity- study

Thika Cloth Mills and Shona EPZ, women reported less stress, managers reported more production at work

In Summary

• Neville Okwaro, a Menstrual Hygiene Advisor to the Government, said that workplaces should consider the long term costs of providing MHM products to women.

• “The study found that every Sh100 a factory spends on supporting MHM will possibly return over double that investment in benefits,” he said. Over two years, he said, the benefits of providing improved MHM are over triple the value of its costs.

Ruby cup lead trainer Vanessa Kivugale illustrates to business women the use of a menstrual cup during a Menstruation at work: improving business outcomes intervention at Trademark hotel on December 9, 2021/ CHARLENE MALWA
Ruby cup lead trainer Vanessa Kivugale illustrates to business women the use of a menstrual cup during a Menstruation at work: improving business outcomes intervention at Trademark hotel on December 9, 2021/ CHARLENE MALWA

Once every month, women experience the natural phenomenon of menstruation.

While some women are often prepared for their periods, others are caught off guard, especially while at work or school.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) conducted a study to find out the link between improved menstrual hygiene management (MHM) at work and business outcomes.

According to the Menstruation at Work: Improving Business Outcomes study, women were more productive in the workplace when they were provided with Menstrual Hygiene Management products such as sanitary pads, sanitary pad disposals, clean wash areas, and many more.

Whitney Fry, the senior associate at Iris Group and the lead advisor on the study, revealed that the women respondents reported being more comfortable going to work knowing that they would be provided menstrual products at the workplace.

She was speaking at the launch of the study on Thursday at the Trademark Hotel in Nairobi.

“The women felt more confident and less anxious during their periods while at work and this, in turn, made them work better, not to mention that they spent less time out of the office either looking to buy sanitary pads or staying home from work because they had no menstrual health products,” she said.

USAID partnered with Thika Cloth Mills Limited and Shona EPZ to conduct the nine-month research.

Thika Cloth Mills Sarah Nyakio, USAID Iris Group Senior Associate Whitney Fry, with Menstrual Hygiene Management champions Emma Mwende and Joyce Nduku during a Menstruation at work: improving business outcomes intervention at Trademark hotel on December 9, 2021/ CHARLENE MALWA
Thika Cloth Mills Sarah Nyakio, USAID Iris Group Senior Associate Whitney Fry, with Menstrual Hygiene Management champions Emma Mwende and Joyce Nduku during a Menstruation at work: improving business outcomes intervention at Trademark hotel on December 9, 2021/ CHARLENE MALWA

“We discovered that there was an average of 110 hours of increased productivity per month for a factory with 100 women ,” Fry said.

Isaac Maluki the CEO of Shona EPZ, said that although they encountered a little resistance about the project, in the end his employees were able to come on board.

“Since Iris group came in , our productivity has really increased. We found that women now don’t have to lose their days at work or stay home. They are happy to be at work, to produce and they are doing it stress free,” he said.

Maluki said that this has improved Shona’s productivity more than two folds as their concentration is on work and the stigma surrounding menstruation has gone down.

Roseline Atieno from Qallan Marketing said that the study was very groundbreaking because often, people at the workplace do not think to discuss women’s experiences with menstruation at work.

“School going girls get sanitary products at school. It would be nice if working women also got these products at work,” she said.

The study also found that women spend over Sh200 on average monthly and if the products were provided at work, they could increase their savings monthly and overall wellbeing.

Neville Okwaro, a Menstrual Hygiene Advisor to the Government, said that workplaces should consider the long term costs of providing MHM products to women.

“The study found that every Sh100 a factory spends on supporting MHM will possibly return over double that investment in benefits,” he said.

Over two years, he said, the benefits of providing improved MHM are over triple the value of its costs.

“In the end, a supported employee is n effective and productive employee,” he concluded.