This past month we have gone on a mission to promote menstrual hygiene and health at my school.
May 28 was World Menstrual Hygiene Day to raise awareness about period poverty in the world and to promote methods of menstrual hygiene and health to ensure that no girl has to miss school due to this normal biological function and to also end the stigma against periods.
Thousands of girls miss school every day due to not having menstrual hygiene products readily available and they also miss due to ugly stigmatization. In some countries, women and girls are exiled from their homes and isolated from everyone while on their period since it is seen as dirty, evil, and shameful.
This stigma contributes to hygiene products like pads, tampons, and menstrual cups not being readily available in many parts of the world. Girls miss out on school for up to a week at a time every month because of getting their periods.
There is not a large stigma in Namibia, but it still exists. It’s mostly because of the fact that many people do not understand what happens during the menstrual cycle – or why women even have one at all.
To counter this, we made reusable menstrual pads at my school to be an addition to a generous donation of single-use pads made by some local business and a local charity.
The pads are super simple to make and only require a few materials and very basic sewing skills. We spent a couple of days making our pads and we are still adding to the numbers we have. That way, if a girl starts her period and is unprepared, we can provide her with a pad she can keep using for up to a year. It is very simple to clean!
To support this effort, we also hosted a Menstrual Health Day at the beginning of the month. We did this to promote menstrual health and to educate all of the learners, not just the girls, about their menstrual periods. We also demonstrated various period hygiene supplies and talked about why menstrual periods are important for all of us.