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This International Women’s Day, I’d like to put the spotlight on hygiene and health gender (in)equality. Research shows women still do most of the cleaning at home and are more likely to discuss topics like menstruation and incontinence. While we should celebrate every woman for their contribution, we also need to find a gender balance because we all have a role to play.
For over a decade, to spark a dialogue about the role of hygiene and health in well-being, Essity has shared insights from our research. From this, we know that globally it’s almost twice as common for mothers (73%) to talk to their daughters about menstruation compared to fathers (40%); that three in five couples argue about cleaning and hygiene roles at home, and; it is more common for women to share their experience of incontinence (30% of people know a woman who has experienced urine leakage compared to 10% who know a man).
I certainly want to acknowledge everything women do to move things forward, not only today, but every day. Many of us might not even reflect on these topics, but they are crucial for our well-being. By preserving hygiene roles and stereotypes, we influence our children, which affects overall levels of hygiene and health. A girl may not attend school because she is “sick” a few days each month. A man with incontinence may be prevented from having an active and social life because he’s too embarrassed to seek help.
We want everyone to know that hygiene and health have no gender. We all have a role to play to challenge taboos and stereotypes and help raising the health and hygiene standards all over the world.
Everyone should be able to speak openly about topics like incontinence and menstruation, because only then can we break the taboos; crucial for human dignity and quality of life. Taking equal responsibility for hygiene and health improves gender equality and leads to a more harmonious family life and a more inclusive society.
International Women’s Day has been celebrated for more than 100 years, and though we have come far, there is still some way to go in relation to health and hygiene. I want to encourage everyone to take action and do something today; to start talking about hygiene and health. Menstruation. Incontinence. And other hygiene-related stereotypes.
#balanceforbetter hygiene and health standards all over the world.
Volker Zöller, President Consumer Goods, Essity