Menstrual Narratives of Womanhood

The world celebrated the first ever Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28, 2014, and we are very happy to be part of this groundbreaking event because it’s been long overdue. The silence and taboo surrounding menstruation not only impedes the rights and dignity of women and girls protected under international law, it sends a dangerous message to young girls that their unique bodies are peripheral, and subordinate to the universe they equally inhabit with the boys/men in their lives.

As Gloria Steinem articulated, “If men could menstruate… menstruation would be an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine event: Men would brag about how long and how much. Boys would mark the onset of menses, that longed-for proof of manhood, with religious ritual and stage parties. Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea to help stamp out monthly discomforts. Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free.” As funny as this sounds, it is absolutely true- it reflects the current state of affairs on women/girl’s rights to bodily integrity.

 For many girls around the world, life stops, and education halts when menstruation begins. For example, Nigeria’s student to toilet ratio is 500:1, and of the toilets available, they are poorly maintained, lack privacy and changing areas are unsafe. This undermines the social inclusion and educational enrollment/performance and capacity of girls, especially when they are menstruating.

Today, as part of our ongoing journey and exploration of menstruation and menstrual hygiene narratives through storytelling, we asked women to share their first menstrual experience or what they remembered of it.

These stories will debut as individual or thematic blog entries, we welcome you to explore and celebrate the courage, and humor of these women as they share some of the most intimate parts of their lives. If you are interested in sharing your stories and experiences, please contact us.

As you read, take the pledge to Break The Silence on menstruation and help stop #Stigma:

Say it loud and proud:

  •  I will break the silence on menstruation
  • I will not feel shy; I will take pride
  •  I will spread the word outside and inside the home

One thought on “Menstrual Narratives of Womanhood

  1. Gloria Steinem couldn’t have said it better. At Days for Girls, we like to say that menstruation is not a women’s issue – it’s a human issue. After all, without periods, there would be no people!

    There are so many stories we could share. One story that demonstrates the importance of educating all about this issue took place in Zimbabwe. A high-level male minister was attending one of Days for Girls’ trainings. The minister expressed how important this issue was. He had looked at enrollment rates for girls and boys for years, always wondering why the enrollment rate for girls dropped off. Finally, someone told him, “It’s because of their days…it’s because of menstruation.” “Oh,” he said. “What’s that?” This is a man who is not only highly educated, but who had a wife and daughters. Because of the stigma of menstruation, no one had ever spoken to him about it.

    We need to break the silence. What are we afraid of? We all got here because of a period. We invite everyone working in this important space to keep sharing their stories, and to learn more about the work Days for Girls is doing to bring sustainable hygiene solutions to women and girls all over the world. http://www.daysforgirls.org. Thank you, LEPA Initiative, for asking us all to speak up.

    Liked by 1 person

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