menstrual hygiene day
Periods are a fact of life, and the code of silence that surrounds them carries a heavier toll than you might expect.
Austin and Shrida are two members of Plan International Canada's Youth Advisory Council. In recognition of Menstrual Hygiene Day, they asked a few of their fellow council members about their experiences with menstrual health and stigma.
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.
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.
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.
Happy Menstrual Hygiene Day, Canadian women — and as your gift, please accept a complete lack of tax on your pads and tampons.