Menstrual Hygiene Day : Unpacking The Menstrual Taboo And The Need For Awareness

Today marks the Menstrual Hygiene Day , a day to break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential. This day provides a global platform for partners across all sectors to engage in action, advocacy and knowledge-sharing around menstrual hygiene management. Menstrual Hygiene Day was initiated by  WASH United in 2013 and acts as its International Secretariat.

Growing up, menstruation was a taboo topic to talk about openly because with it came dire consequences like isolation and utter embarrassment. In fact, I remember back in Primary school I would hide my sanitary towel when going to change just so that no one knows am serving my time. Even as time has changed, there’s still a huge deal of shame around periods as they are regarded gross and dirty especially by men.

Remember Menstruation is a healthy biological process that every healthy woman goes through at least three days in a month. This equates to having at least a packet of sanitary towels in a month. However, this commodity has been out of reach for many Kenyan girls especially in the rural areas and they resort to other queer means like chicken feathers, cheap mattresses and newspapers to fashion makeshift pads to “hide the shame”. Recent interventions have seen more girls from remote parts of this country access this commodity at cheaper rates and some for free. Some players like ZanaAfrica Foundation and Pad Haven create affordable and reusable sanitary towels for the Kenyan girl. Menstrual hygiene is not an option but rather a necessity for every girl.

Despite the progress made in creating awareness on the subject matter , some religions across the globe have approached it with misinformation because of deeply-rooted cultural taboos surrounding menstruation (menstrual taboos). Some church fathers defended the exclusion of women from ministry based on a notion of uncleanness. For example, in many traditional Hindu homes in India, girls and women face restrictive taboos relative to menstruation, such as being denied entry to the temple and the kitchen.

The first step is creating awareness by teaching children that periods are natural and normal, breaking down any misconceptions, and by doing so no girl will be shocked when they first get their period. This should also trickle down to men and everyone else in the society on the normalcy of this topic and how they can work together to debunk these taboos.

Before I finish, let me remind you that even Jesus himself allowed to be touched by the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years, and he healed her. Let’s not isolate girls and women on the basis of a normal biological process.

Am taking a step by sharing this;

Photo courtesy of menstrualhygieneday.org

What will you do?

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