Menstrual Friendly Public Toilets

Public toilets refer to facilities that are publicly funded, in public space, and available to everyone. Public toilets are often insufficient in number. Physical, socioeconomic, and hygienic barriers hinder access and discourage use of these facilities. 

Over 800 million people menstruate globally every day, many of whom navigate the public domain in urban settings. Public toilets often lack resources and design features conducive to menstrual health and hygiene. These include disposal units, free or low-cost menstrual products, fixtures like hooks and mirrors, and utilities like water and lighting. The unmet needs of menstruating users are barriers to participation in public life that are rarely acknowledged, let alone addressed. Public health researchers are well positioned to document needs, explore potential responses, and engage stakeholders to improve the availability and quality of menstrual friendly public toilets (MFPT).

Multi-City Menstrual Friendly Public Toilets (MFPT) Study

Since 2022, the GATE Program at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health has partnered with researchers at six institutions around the world to generate evidence and champion groups to encourage the improvement of menstrual friendly public toilets. Cities in the global MFPT study include: New York City, USA; Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; Barcelona, Spain; Kampala, Uganda; Manila, Philippines; and Osaka, Japan. 

In each of the six cities, the research lead and a student team explored the issue of MFPT through a two-part approach: field-based audits of public toilets and qualitative key informant interviews. Audits assessed the menstrual friendly characteristics of existing public toilets. Key informant interviews with diverse stakeholders in public and private sectors, as well as non-governmental organizations, explored further issues, including challenges and opportunities for improving MFPT in each city. Analysis of key findings is underway as of fall 2023.

The multi-city menstrual friendly public toilets study was conducted in six cities with global partners.

Global Partners


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  • MFPT Audit Tool - Coming soon!