Menstruation is a natural process and a sign of health common among all women.
Despite being a shared female experience, stigma and taboo around menstruation exist globally. In some areas of the world, the culture surrounding menstruation can be detrimental and damaging to women and girls.
According to Femme International, in certain areas of the world, the following taboos surrounding menstruation exist:
- In rural Ghana, women are banned from entering a dwelling with a man or cooking him food
- In rural Venezuela, women have to sleep in special huts during their period.
- In Islamic Tradition, women are forbidden to pray, touch the Koran or observe fasting traditions.
- In India, women are not allowed to touch cows.
- In remote areas of Nepal, women cannot interact with anyone, and they are banished to an excluded clay hut until their period is over.
- In many Southeast Asian communities, out of fear of contamination, girls are not allowed to use the same facilities as the rest of the community.
- In Kenya, women in the semi-nomadic Masai region are not allowed to milk cows or enter goat pens out of fear of contamination. They are not allowed to eat animal products either.
The prevalence of stigma and taboo is accompanied by a severe deficiency in health education resources, and this only preserves faulty beliefs.
In addition to stigma and taboo, women around the world face lack of sustainable feminine hygiene products and hygienic facilities. The critical lack in menstruation management options leads to embarrassment and missed school or work, all of which have far reaching consequences.
I believe every women and girl should have access to feminine hygiene. This is exactly the vision of Days for Girls, an international non-profit organization dedicated to providing feminine hygiene solutions and health education to women and girls.
They do so by constructing kits, which contain everything needed to maintain proper hygiene. They also provide health education resources to women and girls, empowering them to be leaders and start conversations in their communities. Additionally, they have gone even farther by investing in training programs in various communities so that women and girls are able to fabricate their own kits.
I had the opportunity to sew hundreds of reusable liners (see photos below) that will be included in Days for Girls kits. Each girl gets 8 liners that are sewn using felt, an absorbent fabric that can be washed and reused. One kit also includes: 2 protective shields, 2 zip-lock bags for washing and storing, 1 washcloth, 1 bar of soap, 2 pairs of panties and 1 drawstring bag to hold it all together. The absorbant liners are meant to resemble washcloths that can be hung to dry discretely. This again is in order to prevent potentially embarrassing situations that may arise.
It was a wonderful experience to serve. Although my contribution is small, I am grateful to take part in a cause I believe in.
Have you ever volunteered with Days for Girls or a similar organization? What are your thoughts on this global issue?