A recent piece by Meghan Markle: ‘How Periods Affect Potential‘ in TIME magazine highlighted the affects of the stigmatism of menstruation within several cultures that govern developing countries. This stigmatism not only prevents young girls from receiving access to proper sanitation devices to manage their periods, but also prevents young girls from leaving the confines of their homes; the biggest repercussion of which being girls having to abandon their education at the average age of thirteen. Whilst I am baffled as to how a natural bodily function experienced by almost every female warrants attitudes of shame associated with weakness and uncleanliness, Markle interrogates how and why this stigmatism resonates so deeply within so many cultures.
The article not only presents compelling arguments in favour of Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM), but also highlights how the issue has failed to make regional and global agendas, despite the likes of Michelle Obama and various NGOs speaking on the topic. Contrary to popular belief, the MHM conversation is not another ‘feminist rant’ to change attitude toward an isolated issue, but is a conversation which serves as a catalyst for educating the girls who so rightfully deserve an education, but are being denied one because of a biological function that they have no control over. Together with initiatives such as India’s ‘Save the girl, educate the girl’ and ‘#Let Girls Learn’ the conversation needs to be steered in the direction of MHM.
How do we do this, and where do we go from here? Lucky for us, WASH united has come to the rescue with Menstrual Hygiene Day, which looks to take place on the 28th May, in effort to ‘break the silence’ surrounding MHM by raising awareness and educating globally on the issues which surround it.
Markle’s efforts in highlighting the importance of MHM speaks volumes to not only the commitment we should all have to the MHM conversation, but teaches us that without investing in such initiatives, generations of girls will suffer from this ill-founded stigmatism. In the words of Markle:
‘To break the cycle of poverty, and to achieve economic growth and sustainability in developing countries, young women need access to education. When we empower girls hungry for education, we cultivate women who are emboldened to effect change within their communities and globally. If that is our dream for them, then the promise of it must begin with us. Period.’