Today Women and girls may not be forced to sleep outside the compound or sit on sand during menstruation, but they still face a lot of challenges relating to menstruation. The major challenges being period poverty and period shame. There are also a lot of myths and beliefs surrounding menstrual periods which often result in stigma, and discrimination against girls and women. For instance, in most traditional households, a girl on period is considered unclean, as such, she is not allowed to cook or add salt to food. Thankfully, there have been efforts which have been done to help address these challenges . A huge step was taken by Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) organization, when it dedicated the 28th May to Menstrual Hygiene Day, the aim of setting aside this day is to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management, raise awareness and break taboos surrounding menstruation. This year’s theme is action and investments in Menstrual Hygiene and Health.
To most girls, period is the most embarrassing thing about puberty because of the myths surrounding it and how the subject is handled in our society, makes matters even worse. Boys make fun of girls on periods during classes and talk about menstruation as if it’s a taboo. Girls are never supposed to openly talk about period unless in the privacy of their female friends. The 28th Of May serves as a reminder to women and girls that they can and should openly talk about menstruation and its challenges. Menstruation is a very normal and natural body function and it should be treated as such by girls and women themselves and everyone else. As such, no girl or woman should feel ashamed talking about their periods and their struggles, no girl should feel the need to hide her sanitary pads each time she goes shopping.
In a Country like Malawi, there has been little action and very few investments done to address period poverty. For this reason, period poverty still remains one of the main challenges which Malawian girls face today. There are instances where girls drop out of school because they lack access to proper sanitary products. Most girls fear embarrassment and ridicule in case they stain their clothes while in public. As such, some girls skip school and stay home in doing so affecting their academic grades. Of course there have been people and organizations lobbying for free distribution of sanitary pads in schools but alas, the cries have been falling on deaf ears. Luckily, there have been individuals and different organizations which play a part in ending period poverty by distributing free pads and have also been teaching girls how to make reusable sanitary pads. Some of these organizations include, UNICEF, YONECO and Supreme. However, these organizations and well-wishers cannot reach each and every girl, so there is still a need for a permanent solution to ending period poverty, one which requires the government’s intervention.
“Menstruation isn’t a problem, poor menstrual hygiene is”-Unknown.
Every individual can take part in ending period poverty, shame and stigma. It doesn’t mean that you have to donate or hold sensitization campaigns in primary or secondary schools, you can start right where you are. For example, you can buy sanitary pads or offer financial assistance to girls in the community, relatives, neighbors and those close to you. Menstruation is not a burden and should not be treated as such.
-Supreme Reusable pads.
Interesting fact: 28th May Because- On average ,the menstrual cycle for most women is 28 days in length and menstruation period for most women is 5 days each month-India.com