• WREPA

Menstrual Hygiene Day

Written by Pamela Ngulu

On May 28th, the world celebrated Menstrual Hygiene Day.

I guess I’d call this a bloody

post. No pun intended!

Guys, there’s nothing celebratory about getting your period. (Ladies I’m speaking for myself) I would say the world is reminding us again, just how hard we women have to work, for things that should be easily accessible and affordable. Many adolescent girls in low-income and middle-income countries lack appropriate facilities and support in school to manage menstruation.

According to a Zambian article, girls suffer from poor menstrual hygiene, originating from lack of knowledge, culture and tradition, and socio-economic and environmental constraints, leading to inconveniences, humiliation and stress. This leads to reduced school attendance and poor academic performance, or even drop outs, and ultimately infringes upon the girls’ human rights. I remember getting my first period at 15 years of age and how I was scared to share this very personal and strange information with my family. I was scared and embarrassed of what my body was subjecting me to. I wasn’t prepared, I hadn’t being taught anything about sanitary towels and how often I was to change them. It took me two days to finally tell someone that I had my first period. I was

kindly reminded that this is where I stop “Playing with boys” I think that was the closest of sex

education I could get to. I was lucky enough to have informed myself through my peers. It was sort of a contest in primary school. The one who had their period first got a seat at the kings table. Smh, girls.

Back to the issue at hand, we are being reminded that today is menstrual hygiene day. That girls bleed for 3-7 days in a month. Most of these young women are forced to stay home for those 7 days because its a messy affair. Especially for those who have no idea where to get their next set of sanitary towels. Informing the world about Menstrual Hygiene is okay but we should also start taking into account the health implications and prevailing socio-cultural and economic factors, there is need for a continuous, school education programme.The girls should be educated about the process and significance of menstruation, use of proper pads and its proper disposal. Lack of modern sanitary products often leads to lower school attendance rates, failure and/or dropping out. When girls miss school they lose educational pace with boys, making them more vulnerable inside and outside of the classroom. There is a need for improving access to sanitary pads

and advanced provision of it.

I dream of the day where tampons and sanitary products will be free for every woman.

For my girls in the rural area, You’re not unclean. Desensitizing men and boys about menstruation

leads to more open conversations and empathy. Since fathers are often the breadwinners, it is

important to inform them about menstruation because they determine if funds are available to buy

menstrual products.

Note to self: Maybe if period pains burned calories, we would be half way through the war.