How do sanitary kits boost up the quality of girls education in Somalia?

Sahra Ahmed Koshin - Exploring, Researching and Documenting Gender Issues in Somalia.

How do sanitary kits boost up the quality of girls education in Somalia?

Sanitation is dignity. We come from a culture where we have never had sanitary kit packages. Menstruation was a personal and private matter and you were to seek your own solutions. Now we have factories developing kits for us. Now we have a choice. Having a choice is empowerment.

By Sahro Ahmed Koshin, Gender Technical Adviser at MoE Puntland and PhD Candidate ‘Gender in Education in Somalia’.

Contributing to efforts geared towards bridging the gender gap in the education sector in Puntland through lobby-oriented activism and professional writing.


Introduction and background

The CARE-led EU-funded Waxbarashada Waa Iftiin (WWI) Education project works closely with the Gender Unit of the Ministry of Education in Puntland. The WWI project strives, among others, to contribute to the overall achievement of one of the goals of education in the world; gender equity…

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Let’s Talk about Power, Violence and Men in Crisis

FEMNET

By Sam Rosmarin*

This week, hundreds of Kenyans marched in downtown Nairobi chanting “My Dress, My Choice” in response to recent violent public attacks on women. On the surface, these attacks focused on the indecent attire of the victims, while the march focused on the freedom of women to dress how they please. While I laud the marchers for putting this issue into the public space, I can’t help but think their slogans are misguided. By centering their slogans on dress, the activists allowed Kenya to slip into the wrong conversation: a debate on morality and appropriate attire.

These conversations aren’t inherently bad, but I believe they are wasted opportunities to confront the real issues of power and violence.

When a mob of men strips a woman naked for being “indecent” in public, this is an act of power not morality. Let’s be honest: if it were truly…

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In Search Of The Menstruating Goddess

Mythri Speaks

When it comes to conversations around Menstrual Taboos, usually there are two strong view-points: One which says that it is all rubbish and we need to set women who follow these taboos “free”. Another, equally strong but externally silent viewpoint says that we should never stop following what women in our families have done for generations. The two view-points do not meet and usually have no tolerance for the other.

In our stubbornness to prove what we wish to be true, we rarely look at the rituals for what they are. Rituals and taboos are only external forms of some belief. They are either good or bad depending on the belief that gave birth to the ritual. Sadly, the most commonly heard beliefs around the menstrual rituals are negative, hinting at menstruation as being impure. And therefore, the rituals that arise from this negativity cause more harm than good.

But…

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#MenstrualNarratives: The Story of Irene (58yo, Durban, South Africa) “My mother however was not as open as my Dad and she did have certain prejudices towards menstruation that it was something to be borne and endured and it was a hassle”

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I remember having a very serious talk with my dad about the special gift that ladies had to give to a man and that was one’s virginity. I remember then getting into discussion about sex and pregnancy and babies and marriage, but I was not yet menstruating. However I did have an older sister with whom I shared a bedroom so I had first hand experience of her first menstrual period.

So when it came to mine although it was a shock and I felt afraid of what was happening to my body I had a sister, mother and father with whom I could talk. My mother however was not as open as my Dad and she did have certain prejudices towards menstruation – that it was something to be borne and endured and it was a hassle and men were more fortunate that women etc.

It was a scarey experience but I was able to get support and assistance both at home and at school so the adjustment was quick and easy.

However, much later on in life I came across a book that suggested a totally different perspective on the menstrual cycle in that one should celebrate one’s fertility and it had a prayer that one could say in thanksgiving for the privilege of being able to be fertile. If I can find it I will share it on this site.

#MenstrualNarratives-The Story of Abee (25yo, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka) “I told to mother when I got my first menstruation and of course it was a celebration in my society”

According to my community, the age of 16 was too late to get menstruation. Therefore, I have already aware of menstruation from my mother’s instruction and it was a part of my education in intermediate level. I told to mother when I got my first menstruation and of course it was a celebration in my society. I was not allowed to see any men from outside and I was not allowed to go out for a month. I kept in side my room and fed by healthy and nutrition food. Then after a month. I had puberty ceremony, where so many relatives attended.

The Story of SK ( 22yo, Cambodia; Siem Reap) “mother was telling me to use old shorts to block it. She didn’t get me a pad. It was somehow expensive to her”

The experience was not great. I remember I knew what is was called and that only females have it. That’s all. 
I wasn’t prepared and when I first had it at home, my mother was telling me to use old shorts to block it. She didn’t get me a pad. It was somehow expensive to her and she said if we used clothes, we could wash it and use it again in the future. “Pad, use one and dispose one. Such a waste,” her exact words. 

It felt very uncomfortable. I really hope there are more raising-awareness programs to educate girls at remote areas to be well-prepared and not having the same experience like mine.

The Story of Sharon (19yo Nairobi; Kiambu) ” I was dying…well…I thought I was. I was so embarrassed but didn’t understand why”

‘Well…here I am in the bathroom. A tear in my right eye. It must have been that puddle of water I stepped in outside the house. I could have sworn it had a tadpole. I am going to die…I should tell mum…I will probably bleed out by the time I get to her room. Why me? My science teacher never told us bilharzia spreads this quickly. How can such a small animal carry such a deadly disease? He never mentioned there would be so much blood. It’s time to tell mum.’
My first time was too scary for a girl that was just about to turn thirteen in two days. One could say it was a gift from Mother Nature but for this little miss…it was a nightmare! It was a sunny Sunday. The clock had just stroke eight and I was stuck in the washroom. I was dying…well…I thought I was. I was so embarrassed but didn’t understand why. We had just had a class on water-borne diseases the previous Friday thus my conclusion for the blood would have been accurate. The teacher said victims would bleed out and eventually die. I got on my knees, said my duly prayers and called out for my mother. My tone must have petrified her as she rushed into the room in a jiffy. I could not believe it when she laughed and gave me a hug. I had just handed her a blood-stained pair of knickers…I was dying! What was more astonishing was that she left me to bring back a piece of padding. It was unbelievable. Any minute I would drop down and never wake up again and here she was looking amused.
“Sweetheart…don’t be frightened…you’ve just gotten your first period. You’re a woman now!”
Oh well, figures why I’m still alive and writing this huh.

The story of Amaya (16yo Bangladesh; Dinajpur) “I just couldn’t accept the fact that menstruation at the age of twelve was normal”

The story of Amaya (16yo Bangladesh; Dinajpur) “I just couldn’t accept the fact that menstruation at the age of twelve was normal”.

The story of Amaya (16yo Bangladesh; Dinajpur) “I just couldn’t accept the fact that menstruation at the age of twelve was normal”

I remember waking up one morning and noticing little brown stains on my undies. Despite the fact that we still weren’t taught about periods in school, and that I never had a discussion about it with my mom yet, I knew about menstruation from textbooks (thanks to my inquisitive nature). However, being somehow bizarrely sure that I’m not going to have my periods at the ‘early’ age of twelve, I simply ignored the signs and went to school without any sanitary napkins; save for a wad of tissues. You know, just in case.

I ended up spending my entire day at school sitting down and hoping that minimal movement would somehow decrease the blood flow. When I finally did return home, I was appalled by the sheer amount of blood and informed mom.

I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t accept the fact that menstruation at the age of twelve was normal. The facts that mom didn’t share much about the ‘taboo’ subject and that even girls my age were embarrassed to discuss it openly, didn’t help much either. Hence, my initial disgust towards periods lasted for many upcoming months; until I learned more about it by stalking several discussion forums online regarding these.

The Story of Rubo (22yo, Gaborone (Bostwana)): “she saw it, called me and had me go to the office where I put on some pads and rinsed off my dress. I am forever grateful to her for saving me from the embarrassment”

It’s funny because even though I knew of periods and that women menstruate at some point in our early adolescence, I didn’t know what it was when I first had it. The first day, I saw a drop of a reddish thing on my underwear, I thought it was just some liquid from my vagina and ignored it. The second day, there were two drops, so I showed my mum. She told me “You need to go buy ‘those things'” that women use at that time of the month” I can’t remember what I felt like; maybe relieved because I thought it had been something worse or awed that I had finally started my period. So I bought some pads and used them for two days. On the morning of the 3rd day, I woke up and there was no flow (I’ve come to learn that sometimes the monthly period won’t flow early in the morning but starts some time after you are awake). So I went to school thinking that I was done with my period. By “break time/recess”, I knew something was wrong because I felt really wet. We had just finished out English lesson and the teacher was female, thank God!! I let everyone go out of the class before I stood to leave; she saw it, called me and had me go to the office where I put on some pads and rinsed off my dress. I am forever grateful to her for saving me from the embarrassment. That was my first menstrual experience.