I've heard a lot of talk recently about periods and their place in this day and age, aside other discussions that I, a sixteen-year-old girl, living in healthy, educated circumstances, never would have thought about. Every month, the pain of my period honestly, truly, sucks- but that's all it's really ever done. I have never been disabled because of my period, I have never not been able to afford feminine protection, and I have always had readily available access to education to help with my situation. Upon browsing the internet, the video below is what really got me thinking.
The lack of period education in the United States is mind-boggling. In fifth grade, the girls and the boys of my class were separated for "the talk." The girls got to watch a video about periods and other girl-related puberty things, while the boys talked about their penises and their "urges," and I assume their armpits smelling... (?) Clearly, most of these boys had no idea what was going on in the other room, nor would they know after leaving theirs.
It saddens me that while men are certainly undereducated on the topic, even some women have even not been educated properly, ensuring that they go through the process of menstruation alone. it is treated as a taboo in this country, an ideal which needs to be smashed. When will we stop shaming women for something that means they are healthy?
As said in the video, “just because something isn’t happening to you, doesn’t mean you need to be ignorant about it.” All over the world, women are facing hardships related to their periods that can be solved by proper management and education. Here are some startling facts:
- "A 2012 UNICEF study across six rural districts in Sierra Leone schools revealed that up to 21.3% of students report missing school during their menstrual periods.
- 48% of girls in Iran, 10% in India, and 7% in Afghanistan believe that menstruation is a disease, shows a 2013 WaterAid study
- In Bangladeshi garment factories where 80% of factory workers are women, a majority use rags from the factory floor for menstrual cloths. Infections are common, leading to 73% of women missing work for an average of 6 unpaid days per month, as indicated in a 2013 report by WSSCC by HERproject."
An organization called WASH United's mission statement is as follows: "We want to create a world in which every woman and girl can manage her menstruation in a hygienic way – in privacy, safety and with dignity – at home, at school and at the workplace." They've pledged to "end the hesitation about menstruation," even making May 28 Menstrual Hygiene Day.
Check them out here: http://www.wash-united.org/
The "tampon tax," is another HUGE issue. Most states in the U.S. tax women for their feminine protection. Canada just recently, due to social pressure, axed the "tampon tax." Good move, Canada. Below is a chart of which states are exploiting women's natural, monthly, reproductive functions for their own benefit. Some states do not consider tampons to be a "necessity," but that leaves the question of "how are we supposed to protect ourselves from bleeding this week?"
Women are taking a stand in the face of this adversity. One woman, by the name of Kiran Gandhi ran a full marathon without a tampon, to raise awareness for those who do not have access to feminine hygiene products and to encourage women to not be embarrassed about their periods. By doing this, Kiran didn't move mountains, nor did she donate money to the cause, but perhaps, she did something greater- she started a conversation. AWARENESS. That's what first needs to happen.
We as women need to team up and realize that as much as we wish we didn't get our periods, we do, and the best thing is to ensure that all of us are protected, healthy, and have access to the things we need. Stand tall and do not be ashamed of your body and who you are.
I will not censor myself. I am a woman, and I am proud. I am not embarrassed, and I will not be satisfied until all women have equal access to feminine hygiene across the globe.