The Globalwaters.org has estimated that over 800 million women menstruate every day across the globe. They note also that, across the globe, barriers to proper management of menstrual hygiene continue to exist. These challenges, are said to have been exacerbated by the global pandemic, Covid-19, which continues to ravage the world. The pandemic has worsened the situation further for women and girls in the less privileged parts of the world, as economic activities have been highly affected globally.
Initiated in 2014 by the German NGO WASH United, Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated on the 28th of May each year. Menstrual Hygiene Day is a day set aside, and observed annually, to create awareness of the importance of good menstrual hygiene management globally among women and girls.
The aim of this annual awareness program is to make sure that by 2030, no girl or woman is held back because she menstruates, as well as ensuring that poverty that impeded proper menstrual hygiene and its associated stigma come to an end.
This day is important because it aims at helping break the silence, as well as changing the negative social norms surrounding Menstrual Health and Hygiene around the world. We are too familiar with the beliefs that exist and the various long-held notions about the menstrual cycle of women and children.
Real life situations
Women and girls around the globe, still use washable materials instead of sanitary pads due to high standards of living and the existence of excruciating poverty. These reusable materials are washed and dried indoors as a result of the stigma surrounding a woman when she is in her period.
Women during these periods in some jurisdictions especially in rural area are termed impure and unclean with lots of restrictions. In certain beliefs, women are isolated from the kitchen and bared from cooking any meal. In some parts, they are unable to interact with their fellow males until such a time that they are done with the cycle.
Amongst a large group of girls you will easily spot a girl who is in her period experiencing low self-esteem, low self-confidence and looking stressed out while a girl who is not in her period is full of herself. It is therefore appropriate to consistently remind ourselves as humans that women are created with special features. In order for them to function completely as nature has created them, they must menstruate, and for that matter, need the support of all including their fellow men to function fully in society.
It is important to know your cycle as a woman. This helps in ensuring to keep a personal hygienic environment that protects and provides dignity.
Do not take medication all in the name of keeping the vagina clean. These might cause you more infections than you think. Consult an expert when you face challenges during your period. Exercise regularly and be mindful of the appropriate diet that keeps you active and healthy.
Wash your hands before you put on your sanitary pad and wash your hands again after you take it off. Remember to change not less than three times a day.
What should be done
There should be a platform for menstrual dialogue, it should be normalized in our educational systems and our societies at large.
Cheaper alternatives and better organisms will be needed so that the less privileged in the society can afford. It is in this regard that governments across the globe who have decided to provide support in ensuring dignified menstrual cycles for the girl child needs to be commended. There must be a further focus in improving on the economic activities of women in deprived areas so they can easily fit into the bracket of being able to afford modern materials needed to manage menstrual activities.
Parents, guidance and the society at large needs to train the girl child. Likewise, we are encouraged to speak about periods to girls at very early age to guide them come out of these shocks others have gone through over the years.
Menstruation opens or introduces a young woman to womanhood and for that matter should be something worth of celebration rather than what the situation has been within certain societies across the globe.
A quick one to our men out there, let us educate our young women and fight against the injustice some women go through in some parts of the world. Be the reason why a girl wears a smile on her face in a world free of menstrual stigma.
I wish you all a successful commemoration of this important day in the lives of women everywhere on the planet.
THE NATIONAL WOMEN’S COMMISSIONER (GHANA NATIONAL UNION OF TECHNICAL STUDENTS)