When Instagram repeatedly removes the photo of a sleeping girl with a period stain on her pajamas, this becomes more than a class project. We are content seeing sexualized bodies, but the moment we gaze upon something that does not serve our sexual egos we are offended. Highlighting the fact that the vagina is used for something other than sex is a direct attack on our idyllic conceptions of a manicured feminine identity. We are not outraged by blood. We see blood all the time. Blood is pervasive in movies, television, and video games. Yet, we are outraged by the fact that one openly discusses bleeding from an area that we try to claim ownership over.
In Kenya, the average cost of a package of sanitary pads is 75KSH -- approximately $1 CAD. While this may seem like a minimal amount of money, the average daily income for unskilled labourers is around $1.50 CAD. Providing access to healthy and sustainable menstrual management materials allows women to stay safe, and healthy, and does not sacrifice her ability to participate in work, school or daily activities.
On October 11, 2014, the world will celebrate International Day of the Girl Child. Adolescent girls are among the world's most vulnerable populations, and face a slew of unique and very real challenges. The international community needs to recognize that an empowered woman is the most effective catalyst for sustainable change, and it starts when they are teenagers. Protecting young women from violence increases their odds of completing school, and pursuing a successful and meaningful career!
It won't surprise you to hear that women are among the world's most vulnerable populations. But it might surprise you to learn that one of the most difficult parts about being a woman is also one of the most natural: menstruation. A girl's transition into womanhood is often marked by the beginning of her menstrual cycle, an occasion that is celebrated in many cultures as an important rite of passage. But in many parts of East Africa, it marks the beginning of a lifetime of discomfort, embarrassing health problems, and even harassment. It marks the beginning of schoolyard bullying, missed days of school, and the start of a lifetime viewed as a sexual object.
As an adolescent girl, I was awed by the notion of becoming an adult woman. Like Margaret in Judy Blume's classic coming of age novel, "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret," I was obsessed with all the details, particularly menstruation, and on a semi-conscious level hoped that there would be some sort of fanfare when the momentous time came.
The reality is that our menstrual cycle is extremely powerful and does impact the way we feel from one day to the next. It's also true that we have heightened strengths during every phase of our cycle. Unfortunately, most of us don't know about the intricacies of our cycle and how to really capitalize on these strengths because from the time we hit puberty we're given very little information about it. Why?