Developing countries engaged in creating a global standard for menstrual products

Global standards on the quality and safety of condoms and IUDs have been around for a long time. However, even though about 1.8 billion of the world’s girls and women menstruate every month, there are no standards on menstrual products. 

Initiated by Sweden, a global standard will now be drawn up, and it will include clear safety requirements and the use of comparable testing methods in manufacturing. The standard will also be important for companies that manufacture menstrual products, as it will benefit international trade and facilitate procurement, as well as imports and exports.


“There is largely a lack of menstrual products in developing countries, which limits the ability of women and girls to work and attend school. The donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will enable developing countries to get involved in an important project on menstrual products and spread awareness in their countries,” says Annika Andreasen, CEO of the Swedish Institute for Standards.


The Swedish Institute for Standards, SIS, is set to receive more than USD 770.000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to draw up a global standard on menstrual products and to facilitate the involvement of developing countries in the project.


Menstrual health is an important global health issue, encompassing access to safe menstrual products, toilets, and clean water. If women and girls are not equipped to successfully manage their periods, this can prevent them from participating in society on equal terms.


Decades of research show that when women can fully participate in the economy, the financial stability of their households increases, and families get back on their feet more quickly. Data shows a link between women’s economic influence and lower poverty, and experts consider that this influence is crucial to food security. Furthermore, it encourages growth. New figures from the Eurasia Group show that if decision makers enacted woman-centric policies, global GDP could be more than 7% greater, or USD 10 trillion, in 2030.


The total funding of more than USD 770,000 will be allocated over a period of three years. The money will be used to reduce barriers that prevent developing countries from involvement in standardization work and for competence boosting initiatives in standardization involvement in these countries. The aim is to help increase productivity and competitiveness, to improve health and prosperity, and thus also to help meet several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


An international ISO committee has been set up to draw up a global standard for menstrual products. Sweden is heading this work, and more than forty countries have joined the project so far.

“The aim is to create a practical and inclusive standard on menstrual products that all countries can sign up to. It’s about access to safe menstrual products, no matter where in the world you live, and being able to make informed choices and engage in society,” says Jenny Acaralp, Project Manager at the Swedish Institute for Standards.


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