Action and investment in menstrual hygiene and health is the theme for this year’s world menstrual hygiene day. We are all being called upon to act more and invest where necessary for the betterment of menstrual hygiene and health.
Let’s normalize talking about menstruation - World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2021 [Pulse Contributor's Opinion]
If we normalize talking about periods, it won’t be such a big deal
As we mark this global day, it worries me to see that we still talk about menstruation in hushed whispers. That even in this era of information, it feels uncomfortable to talk about menstruation. In some homes, it’s still a taboo topic especially if there are men around.
Yet, this is a bodily function that we have no control over. It’s as natural as peeing or going for number two. Or does blood make it taboo? I wonder.
It doesn’t have to be shameful
I once worked as a cashier at a certain supermarket where you had to request permission to visit the bathroom. We were not allowed to get in with our handbags so if you were menstruating, you were to equip yourself with all the pads you need for the day.
So on this day, I ask for permission and try to retrieve my pads from the secret place I had put them. In the process of trying to hide them so that the men around don’t notice, my supervisor notices I am hiding something.
Thinking I had possibly taken money from the till, he asked to see what I put in my pocket. I hesitated a little then proceeded to remove the pad from my jeans pocket and showed it to him.
You should have seen the disgusted look on his face. He dismissively said, “enda enda enda”(just go). We both were embarrassed. But for what reason?
Invest in period education
You see, if we normalize talking about periods to both our girls and boys, it won’t be such a big deal.
They will grow up knowing that periods are a normal physiological process for women. Let’s teach our girls that there is nothing wrong with periods. Let’s teach them what to expect on those days and how to carry themselves.
Some things like how often to change your sanitary towel might seem very basic yet some teenagers know nothing about it. They will stay with a tampon or pad for the whole day and later develop an infection. Ignorance.
Let’s break the silence
A girl lives with the father, starts the period, but she cannot tell the father because it’s taboo. What will she do?
She might stay at home and miss school, she might use pieces of tissue or cloth, or worse still, have sex with some guy in exchange for sanitary towels. That’s what happens when we remain silent about menstruation and make it a taboo topic.
Let’s normalize talking about menstruation with our children, peers, colleagues and students. It’s not taboo. It should have never been.
Happy World Menstrual Hygiene Day!
The foregoing is an Opinion Article submitted to Pulse Live Kenya for publication as part of the Pulse Contributors initiative.
Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.
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Anne Wangechi is a freelance Content Specialist based in Nairobi. With six years of writing experience, including a considerable time working for Pulse Live Kenya. She finds joy in creating impactful content and helping others live their dream of becoming published book authors. The mom of one holds a BA in Linguistics, Media and Communication, from Moi University.
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