Menstruation, which at first seem to be a private matter of girls and women, has become a part of the global agenda in international development. The issue even has a label “menstrual hygiene management (MHM)” and is involving various stakeholders. The objective of this special issue is to capture the development of MHM assistance, and illustrate the local realities from four different areas based on fieldwork. The cases focus on schools and adolescent school girls in Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and Nicaragua. Japanese anthropologists, who have worked in each respective country for decades as researchers, and some as practitioners as well, are reporting each case within its local context. By comparing the four cases, it reveals how different (yet in some aspects how similar) the situations are and how important it is to understand each local context when a global recipe is applied to an area.
In this first paper here below, I will focus on outlining the recent development of MHM in the international society. After clarifying the multiple aspects of menstruation, I will explain the common definition of MHM used in international development and how MHM is considered significant to achieve various goals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely Goals 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 12. Representative interventions that have been conducted are introduced to show the four categories of assistance. After a quick review of the research on menstruation and MHM, I will come back to the four case studies of this special issue to explain the position of these studies within the wider research framework.