Hello! Today is Menstrual Hygiene Day.We will be diving into period shaming and ways of combating this crime! Shall we ?
The menstrual hygiene day was initiated with an aim of promoting body literacy, gender equality, and breaking taboos surrounding menstruation. The fact that addressing menstruation makes many uncomfortable for no good reason is exactly why I am writing about it.
It’s 2020 and Kenyans are still committing suicide due to period shaming. The thought of a female teacher telling a 14 year old that she is dirty , because her clothes are stained with blood makes me feel anger boiling up inside me. This breaks my heart because periods are still being associated with shame, witchcraft, dirt ,disgust, and taboos.
Globally period stigma is perpetrated(yes it’s a crime) by cultural taboos, lack of education, silence, discrimination, and period poverty(inability to access menstrual hygiene products). During menstruation, women are not allowed to cook food, enter religious places ,milk animals, or even go near plants. Women in Nepal still use menstrual huts despite the practice being outlawed. Religions such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism refer to menstruating women as unclean and impure.
This is the shame filled reality!
According to Meghan Markle’s humanitarian work in India, adolescent girls’ drop out rate is alarming. This is because the girls are equipped with rags rather than pads, unable to engage in sports ,and cannot take care of themselves due to lack of bathrooms. Kenyan girls in the slums are using pieces of cloth or socks and sharing pads which is particularly dangerous.
During the London Marathon, Kiran Gandhi challenged period stigma by running while bleeding freely without a tampon!
Normalize calling a period what it is ; A Natural process by which the uterine wall is shed .It is nature’s way of telling you that you are growing up. Back then, a mentor told me that a period is a reminder that am not pregnant. Speaking celebration into menstruation changes everything! You are a badass because you can bleed for a week straight without dying!
Here are some ways of shattering taboos on womanhood:
- Educating both boys and girls on menstruation health including myths. You got me right I said both genders! Menstruation is not a gender specific topic. Both men and boys play an important role in combating gender inequality as well as giving women moral support.
- Create period friendly schools and work places. Provide adequate hygiene facilities such as toilets,clean water, soap, and proper waste disposal bins.
- Normalise saying periods instead of using metaphors such as monthly curse, time of the month among many others. They only feed the period stigma even more.
- Donate menstrual products to children’s homes, slums,schools, as well as organizations meeting this need.
- Throw your teen daughter a period party if possible.
- Engage in healthy dialogues in person or online on topics like your first period experience or use of menstrual hygiene products.
It’s up to us to end this period stigma! All of us have a role we cannot run away from. What a great way to spend May 28th donating menstrual products to the less fortunate! Happy Menstrual Hygiene Day!