Breaking the Silence around Periods this Menstrual Hygiene Day

In recognition of Menstrual Hygiene Day, we are raising awareness about the objective of making menstruation an accepted part of life by 2030. It is our goal to create a future in which menstruation is no longer a barrier in society.

Over 2.3 billion people in the world do not have access to basic sanitation facilities and only 27% of those in the world’s least developed countries have a place in their house where they can wash their hands with water and soap. Women and teenage girls who do not have these fundamental amenities face a significant obstacle when it comes to managing their periods at home. That’s why equitable sanitation services are crucial to promoting access to education and gender equality.

Beyond the home, approximately half of the schools in low-income nations, including in South Africa, do not have access to clean drinking water, sanitation, or hygiene facilities, which are essential for enabling young women to effectively manage their periods. Many young women experience a negative experience at school because of this, which may lead them to skip class while they are experiencing their period. Imagine not being able to attend school because of something as simple as having your period. This is the reality that many young girls unfortunately experience. To change this, adolescent girls should have access to running water and facilities that are both safe and hygienic in all schools.

UNICEF reports that most women menstruate between two and seven days a month, which when put back to back, represents about seven years of a woman’s life. Despite how common and natural menstruation is, it remains stigmatized across the globe. The lack of information about menstruation causes damaging misconceptions and discrimination and prevents many girls from enjoying normal childhood experiences. Too often, adolescent girls and boys are prevented from learning about menstruation and developing healthy habits because of stigma, taboos, and myths.

Everyone who menstruates should be given the chance to manage their menstrual cycle in a dignified and comfortable manner, free from the stress of being bullied or the expense of period products. A good way to show support for women menstruating and to contribute to the elimination of period taboo is by making period products readily available in public spaces, especially in places where women are the minority. 

Key facts about menstruation:

  • It is usually a surprise when the first period arrives! Often, girls are scared or worried they are sick. There may not be anyone they can ask for advice.
  • Periods are irregular and can catch girls and women off guard: It is stressful to find a bathroom and materials quickly!
  • Over the years, the average age at which periods begin has changed: Women in the early 1900s didn’t get their periods until they were well into their teens – the average age was around 17. Women today start menstruating at the age of 12 – five years younger than they did in the past.
  • You lose much less blood than you imagine after menstruating: Even though it may seem that you lose a lot of blood during your period, you only lose around three tablespoons; a woman may lose anything from one tablespoon to a small cup of blood during a regular period.

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