The role to educate young girls about menstrual cycle must be a collective thing. May 28 has been set aside to celebrate menstrual hygiene globally. The world is already undergoing major stress in various sectors of the economy due to the global pandemic and menstruation should not be an add on to our problems as humans. There is there the need for combating every from of barriers associated with menstrual health which include lack of sanitary pads and girls dropping out of school due to their periods.
Discussions about menstruation is like a taboo topic for some communities, preventing young girls to access useful information about menstruation. Even educated families shun away from extensively talking about menstrual health. Social and cultural backgrounds put young girls in silence of talking about their challenges with menstrual hygiene, partly because there is a culture of shame about periods.
Misconceptions on menstruation include, it makes the woman filthy, eating food from menstruating women brings bad luck, and menstruating women must stay indoors. In some rural areas, for instance, women who bleed heavily were linked to goddesses and are kept away from public places including school and markets.
There are diverse effects of menstruation. The cramps young women have can slow their activities and physically affect their looks as well as their thought processes. Some are affected by vaginal infections due to the material used for the process instead of the use of sanitary pads. Menstruation has more to do with a woman’s health than anything else.
UNICEF in a tweet shared a message for girls saying, “Periods don’t stop for pandemics, it’s every girl’s right to manage her period safely and with dignity.’’ Menstrual health is not just about bleeding women but it is also about the dignity of these women being kept intact without feeling shame for the natural phenomenon.
We need a generation of mothers to teach young girls the importance of menstrual hygiene. These mother figures can also be in the form of teachers or mentors in the community. The use of fun tools such comic books can help make the subject more approachable for young girls. The target audience for education should be those yet to have their periods and those who just began their journey with periods.
Men also have a shared responsibility of helping their sisters, mothers, and female family and friends, by being available to offer help while women and girls show signs of menstruation such as dullness, nausea, and painful cramps.