In a recent study involving nearly 100,000 girls in India, almost half of them did not know about menstruation until the first time they got their period. Many girls think that they are dying or have a horrible disease the first time they menstruate, as the pain and blood causes confusion and worry.
But menstruation is a healthy and normal part of most women’s lives. On average, we spend 3,000 days in our lifetime menstruating. Roughly half the female population (that’s around 26% of the total population) are of a reproductive age and the majority spend between 2 – 7 days menstruating each month.
Menstrual hygiene matters – not just to the women and girls who are menstruating, but to the whole of society. Here’s how:
- Menstruation matters to education: When schools have the right facilities and education materials – they can help girls manage their menstruation with pride and dignity, and contribute to better education, gender equality and health outcomes.
- MENstruation matters to boys and men too: Taboos are created by the whole of society – in order to break the silence around menstrual hygiene, we need boys and men to also start speaking about periods. A lot of the girls are worried about going to school when they have their period because boys would tease them or think they were dirty. We need to put the MEN back into menstruation – great pun aside, we seriously need to get boys and men involved in breaking the silence on periods.
- Menstruation matters to health: many girls and women can’t afford sanitary napkins or cloths and often rely on unsafe materials, like newspaper, that can cause infection. In some cases, the cloth might be adequate but there are no facilities to keep the cloth clean enough to reuse it.
- Menstruation matters for progress: improving menstrual hygiene can have a profound effect on girls and women, as it can help unlock progress related to health, education and gender equality.
- YOU matter to menstruation: yes – that’s right, you. Whether you get your period or not, you can play an important role in breaking the silence around menstruation. Strike up a conversation, share a story, ask a question or simply just put it out there – Menstruation Matters!
On World Menstrual Hygiene Day and throughout this week, we encourage you to be strong and bold because Menstruation Matters.