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Having just celebrated the Menstrual Health/ Hygiene Day on May 28th ….
Did you know that worldwide, menstruation is defined using terms such as the curse, being on the rag? Among other myths. Those who have embraced it have referred to it as flowers; all it takes is to key in words “menstruation synonym” on your Google search tab, and you find out the different terms people have used to define it.
Menstruation is a normal occurrence affecting about half of the world’s population, yet it is veiled in secrecy, stigma, and impediments contributing to period poverty. It is not a curse nor something for any blooming young girl or woman to be afraid of. Period poverty, nonetheless, is the lack of access to menstruation products, basic sanitation, and menstrual education. This article aims to highlight the importance of menstrual hygiene, the implications of period poverty, and the need for open communication in resolving these issues; however, before we delve into these, let us read through these real-life stories.
Every month, McKenna, an 11-year-old girl, skips several school days. She’s one of many, as it’s common for her female friends to skip up to one week of class per month. Most of these girls justify their absences by claiming to have a cold, stomach discomfort, or fever. Their teachers see the pattern but never address it directly with the children, nor do the girls discuss why they are skipping school. However, when this trend was under keen observation, the girls said it was because they feared changing a sanitary pad in their school’s public washroom and possibly damaging their clothing while in class due to staining.
Moreover, each month, Hope, a 16-year-old girl living in one of the Kenyan Slums, is put under so much stress and shame trauma from having to use cloth during her menstrual days. It is not that she does not want to use a sanitary pad or doesn’t know what it is, but it is because she can’t afford to buy them every month, so sometimes, she is forced to improvise and use cloth. “It is easier when my flow is light,” she says.
Similarly, Ann, a 37-year-old woman from one of the deep villages of Africa, uses a rag every month when on her period. Ann was born and raised in the village where she still lives. She is the fifth wife of her husband, with whom she has four children. All her life, she has always used a piece of cloth when on her period. She has no idea what a sanitary pad is, but her firstborn daughter, now 13, at least has an idea though she has never used one as they are scarce in the area, they stay in.
These are just a few stories surrounding period shame, poverty, and inadequate menstrual health. To help eradicate more of these stories and promote menstrual health, here is what you need to know.
Menstrual Health and Hygiene
Understanding and maintaining proper menstrual hygiene is critical for women’s general health and well-being. All women within the menstrual cycle age must have access to clean items such as pads, tampons, or menstrual cups to avoid infections and provide comfort during menstruation. In-depth education should be done to children of 9 years and above in schools and churches, among other social places, to help eradicate the everyday use of rags. Teachers and health practitioners should also give more education on the possible infections one can get from poor hygiene. Proper hygiene habits, such as changing sanitary products regularly, should be encouraged as they can benefit a woman’s physical and emotional well-being.
The Harsh Reality of Period Poverty
Period poverty disproportionately impacts vulnerable populations due to financial restrictions and restricted access to essential supplies. Many girls and women have had to use unsanitary alternatives such as rags, leaves, or pieces of old clothes, leading to infections and other health problems. The failure to handle menstruation with dignity also limits educational and social chances. Society has stigmatized this natural phenomenon, making it a topic few are courageous to talk about or can embrace with no shame. By discussing it more frequently in public and through demonstrations such as fun advertisements, we may put this harsh reality to an end.
Breaking Menstrual Taboos and Stigmas
Menstrual taboos and stigmas compound the difficulties that women and girls experience. Shame, humiliation, and cultural beliefs frequently inhibit open talks about menstruation, resulting in shared understanding and the spread of misinformation. We may question cultural conventions and encourage inclusion, empathy, and knowledge by breaking the silence and creating dialogues around menstruation issues.
Advocating for Policy reforms
Addressing period poverty necessitates a multifaceted strategy involving several policy reforms. Governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and stakeholders must collaborate to develop efforts that provide inexpensive and accessible menstrual products, enhance sanitation, and include menstruation education in the school curriculum. Societies may enable women and girls to manage their periods with dignity by recognizing menstruation hygiene as a fundamental right.
Supporting Menstrual Health projects
By supporting menstrual health projects, individuals and organizations may help to reduce period poverty. Donating period products to local shelters and groups, volunteering for efforts that promote awareness and give education, and campaigning for legislative changes that emphasize menstrual hygiene are all examples of how you can help. Contributions to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) focused on menstruation health can also significantly influence.
Menstrual hygiene issues are essential for more than just personal hygiene; they are critical for eradicating period poverty and achieving gender equality. We can guarantee that all women and girls have access to menstruation products, sufficient sanitary facilities, and the information needed to manage their periods with dignity by engaging in open dialogues, shattering taboos, and campaigning for legislative reforms. Ending period poverty demands a community effort to establish an environment in which menstruation is acceptable and menstrual issues are discussed regularly and openly