In Tanga, as in much of East Africa, there is a strict culture of silence surrounding menstruation. It is not spoken about. For girls with disabilities, the taboo compounds their issues, because they are not always capable of understanding exactly what menstruation is, or able to manage it independently.
Founder and Director of Femme International, Sabrina Rubli is a passionate advocate for women's rights, and is based in Toronto, Ontario. Her work in East Africa focuses on promoting women's health through education, specifically menstrual health and hygiene, and breaking down the stigmas surrounding a woman's body.
Menstruation is one of the leading causes of absenteeism among adolescent girls, with girls in Kenya missing an average of four days each month. Without access to accurate and essential health information, girls have limited understanding of how their bodies work. Femme International's study in Nairobi showed that 80 per cent of girls had no idea what menstruation was before their first period, leading to feelings of fear, confusion, and shame. A new smartphone game aims to change that.
05/30/2016 12:04 EDT
There is one critical issue that has been omitted from the SDGs -- the issue of addressing menstrual health and hygiene. Menstruation affects half of the global population. It is a topic that all women and girls are intimately familiar with and yet it is so rarely talked about on the global stage.
05/26/2016 10:47 EDT
Millions of girls around the world will miss school each month because of their periods. Because they don't have sanitary supplies, because they don't understand what is happening to them, or because they are taught that it means they are unclean and dirty. It doesn't have to be this way.
05/11/2016 10:26 EDT
To unleash the power of the adolescent girls is to create a world where girls are able to take advantage of any and every opportunity to come her way. It means to create a world where she not only has access to education, but also the freedom to attend school. Where she has reliable sources of nutrition-rich food and clean water, and doesn't have to risk sexual assault to collect it.
10/10/2015 09:57 EDT
Menstruation is a natural occurrence in every woman's life, and yet, it is shrouded in some type of feminine mystery. Women will spend about 3,000 days of her life menstruating, and yet almost none talking about it. Girls are often taught from a young age that their cycle is their secret, not something to be openly discussed.
08/13/2015 05:33 EDT
Talking about sexual and reproductive health with students is always a little bit awkward, even in the best of situations! Having these discussions within a culture that often considers anything related to reproductive health to be taboo can be particularly challenging -- and incredibly important. In rural Tanzania, such topics are rarely discussed. The national curriculum includes the topics of menstruation and reproductive health, but these topics are frequently rushed through, or skipped altogether, by uncomfortable teachers in underfunded, overcrowded schools.
07/28/2015 05:33 EDT
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.
12/12/2014 12:47 EST
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!
10/10/2014 09:19 EDT
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.
08/19/2014 12:44 EDT
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