What languages can you speak?
Of course, we don’t know the answer. But, what we know is – whichever country you are from the ‘language’ around menstruation/periods isn’t a positive one. It is awkward and uncomfortable. We still talk about menstruation in hushed voices. We whisper to ask for pads in our schools and offices instead of feeling normal while doing it.
It is sad that even in 2017, menstruation invokes a sense of stigma and shame in women.
Many think that menstrual stigma doesn’t exist in the West, because a girl isn’t shunned by her family or asked to live in a separate hut as per religious customs (called Chhaupadi in Nepal). But a news report in The Guardian has shown that British girls from low-income families are missing school during their periods, because they simply can’t afford tampons and pads. The shame and embarrassment around not being able to afford sanitary products forced some of them to use socks or stuff toilet paper down their underwear!
This sense of shame prohibits women from being able to speak openly about their menstrual health and ask questions about managing their periods. This lack of ‘period talk’ can also prevent severe problems from being reported by women. In a study conducted in India it was found that women who used unhygienic method during menstruation were more likely to have any symptom of Reproductive Tract Infection and abnormal vaginal discharge.
Recognising the universal nature of menstrual taboos & stigma will lead to global conversations and collective efforts to address the challenge of ensuring that no women is held back by their period.
We must have a global alliance of all genders who smash menstrual taboos and create a world where it is OKAY to menstruate.
And, talking out loud and clear about menstruation is the first step towards de-stigmatization.
What can you do?
We are a few weeks away from Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28) and it is definitely the best time of the year to spark global conversations on menstruation.
The traditional language and vocabulary of menstruation has been that of shame and stigma.
So, lets’ turn it around!
1) On a piece of paper write ‘In my language Menstruation is called ——-
2) Click a pic of yourself holding the paper
3) Share your photo on Facebook and other social media channels with the Hashtag #SayItLoud and tell your friends why you are supporting this campaign. And, yes do hashtag your language. 🙂
Let’s create a movement of people who believe no girl should be held back by her period.
Share among friends of all genders!