Every month, millions of women and girls around the world face a miserable cycle of pain, discomfort, shame, anxiety, and isolation when their menstrual period arrives. In most homes, access to sanitary products such as pads are limited, and girls often resort to using proxy materials such as tissue, leaves, or old rags to try to absorb the menstrual flow. Appropriate and hygienic infrastructure; including waste disposal mechanisms, soap and water for washing, private, and accessible toilets are rarely available or sustainable. The absence of facilities, coupled with the shame and fear of exposing their menstruation, means that many school girls are forced to miss classes during their menstrual period. Underserved girls who are already disadvantaged by social norms miss a quarter of their educational opportunities.
Celebrating World Menstrual Hygiene Day with school girls including teachers and mothers, not limited to school boys, and male teachers, CCDS hosted four schools on May 25th, 2023 with the number of 140 school girls and 30 school boys, including about 30 out-of-school girls in Rumuolumeni community.
The theme of this year’s World Menstrual Hygiene Day is Making Menstruation a Normal Fact of Life by 2030. We started the program with a break-out session which included a round table discussion of 20-30 girls in different groups. Surveys were also shared out among girls about their menstrual experience. Since there was no provision for anyone’s name on the surveys, we encouraged them to provide the correct answers to the questions to help us to do good research, and possibly organize a better program for underserved girls suffering from menstrual shame and taboos. There was also a short Netflix movie on Period: End of Sentence! There was a lot to learn from the movie. The boys also felt so emotional drawing out lessons from the movie. We also had a series of discussions on Period Pains, and why it is important to see a Doctor. Discussions were also centered on Period Shaming, Cultural Taboos, and Navigating to Eco-friendly menstrual products.
We donated our Eco-friendly washable menstrual pads to students and also gave out sanitary pads. Boys were also eager to collect pads to share with their sisters at home. Our partners were Angel Sanitary Pads, Favorite Group of Schools, and Harmony Centre.