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May 17, 2020 3 min read

Breaking the silence around menstruation

Khushi was on her way to school like every other day when she noticed a wet spot in her panties. When she looked, she discovered a bloodstain. Khushi thought she knew what it meant: she had cancer and she was dying. Now. She ran in panic. She was desperate to make it back home to say goodbye to her family. When she came home disoriented and told her mother about it, she learned that she didn't have to die. She had just got her first period.

 

Education about menstruation is often missing or comes too late

We got to know Kushi during a campaign in Northern India. Her story is not an isolated incident. There are millions of girls like her around the world. Menstruation - a completely natural biological process and a sign of good health, is still subject to taboos and stigma. Millions of girls worldwide neither know how or why they menstruate nor what products they can use to hygienically collect their menstrual blood. According to surveys, 70% of girls in India, 63% in the Philippines and 57% in South Africa knew nothing or very little about menstruation when they first got their period.

Challenges in the area of menstrual education also exist in Germany. A survey by Einhorn and WASH United with almost 3,000 women and girls showed that 58% felt that sex education in school was embarrassing. Only 17% felt that they were well or very well informed about menstruation in school. In a second survey with 89 teachers, more than half found that their school did not do enough about menstruation education and 78% wanted new or different educational materials.

 

The lack of access to period products complicates normal everyday life during the period 

In addition, the limited access to period products such as sanitary pads, tampons and cups makes period management more difficult. In many cases period products are either too expensive or not regularly available in sufficient quantities. The toilets in many schools are also inadequate, for example if there are no lockable doors, no running water or no disposal facilities for sanitary towels and tampons. Then girls often only have the choice between staying at home or not changing the product during school hours.

Or vice versa: a girl who is encouraged to manage her menstruation safely, hygienically, self-confidently and above all without shame has a better chance of a good school education. The result is more self-determination, better career opportunities and the building of a secure future.

 

28 May - Menstrual Hygiene Day!!

In order to end taboos and stigma and to motivate decision makers to invest and act more, the Berlin NGO WASH United has made May 28th a worldwide day of action on the topic of menstruation. The Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) has now grown into a global movement with over 550 partner organizations, in which tens of thousands of people participate.

There is still a lot to be done before menstruating women are no longer restricted by their periods. That is why we are drawing attention to this issue in cooperation with WASH United. You can set an example with our joint collection: The Menstruation Bracelet, which is shown on the shirts, is the symbol for menstruation. If you wear it, you help to start conversations and break the silence. More information about the project and its background can be found on our project page.


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