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Outcome of the Essity/UNICEF partnership “Hygiene is our right”

After concluding the first year, more than 7200 children and adolescents in Mexico City and Chihuahua have benefited from the Essity and UNICEF partnership “Hygiene is our Rights”-program.

The program aims to improve health habits among children and adolescents through better menstrual hygiene and hand washing practices, as well as to raise awareness among educational authorities, and mothers and fathers about the importance of these issues.

The importance of this partnership lies in the need to guarantee the basic right to health and education of children and adolescents, especially in the environments where they develop (home and school), where a lack of access to water and sanitation has been identified. In the case of Mexico, according to the last Census of Schools, Teachers and Students of Basic and Special Education (2013) only 51.6% of public schools had drainage, 69% had drinking water, 87% had toilets and 88.8% had electricity. The conditions of the infrastructure of the toilets in public schools lead to the emergence of diseases and infections. Essity’s 2019 Health and Hygiene Report “Personal well-being: key to social progress” showed that 65% of children surveyed in Mexico avoid using toilets in schools because of the conditions they are in.

The precarious condition of toilet infrastructure, the incorrect management of menstrual hygiene and the lack of awareness about these issues are directly linked to the absenteeism and educational backwardness of thousands of children and adolescents in Mexico, limiting their life projects.

Josephine Edwall-Björklund, Senior Vice President of Global Communications at Essity, said:

“For Essity, identifying and breaking the main barriers that prevent optimal development of hygiene and sanitation practices, hand washing and menstrual hygiene in schools, represents one of the main objectives in this partnership. identifying and attacking these we can act with greater effectiveness and commitment to achieve wellbeing of children and adolescents in Mexico and around the world.” Meanwhile, UNICEF Representative in Mexico Christian Skoog said: “At UNICEF, we seek to ensure that every child and teenager exercises his or her right to good health and quality education by having the minimum conditions of hygiene. Essity is a global leader in hygiene and health, which makes us ideal partners, as this joint program demonstrates.”

“Hygiene is our right” has three main targets:

  • Develop adequate spaces for health, WASH and menstrual hygiene in schools.
  • Leadership formation program, empowerment based on gender perspective and behavioral changes and
  • Advocacy strategy and communication for development on the importance health and WASH practice improvement.

With these three targets, Essity and UNICEF released the first results report of this partnership, which to date has benefited 7,250 children and adolescents.

The partnership between Essity and UNICEF will continue to strengthen the results of the initiative “Hygiene is our right” with the aim to reinforce communication efforts and create awareness of the importance of WASH initiatives in schools, now more than ever due to COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, under this initiative, together we will work with the Ministry of Education to map and accompany the safe return and reopening of schools, identifying water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and training educational communities to improve their hygiene practices.

With the work carried out during 2019, Essity endorses its commitment to improve the hygiene, health and wellbeing conditions of children and adolescents in Mexico. Together, Essity and UNICEF, will continue working during this year to expand these achievements.

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