Reports of school and work absences due to unmet menstrual needs have prompted increased attention to menstruation in policy and practice. However, there appear to be few quantitative studies reported in published literature capturing the prevalence of this hypothesised absenteeism. This study undertook secondary analysis of nationally representative Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 (PMA2020) data from Burkina Faso and Nigeria, and city-representative data from Niamey, Niger to determine the extent of women’s and girls’ self-reported absence from school and work due to menstruation.
Findings support the assertion that menstruation is a source of absenteeism in West Africa and indicate that greater attention from research, practice, and policy is needed. In presenting this data we also reflect critically on the performance of questions regarding menstrual-related absenteeism in national monitoring surveys.