During the international event Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD) – every year on May 28 – awareness is raised for the worldwide menstruation taboo. This year, for the first time also an event is organised in the Netherlands.
Menstruation education, a.k.a. ‘menstrucation’ (the theme of this fourth edition of MHD) is a powerful weapon in the battle against poverty and social inequality. There are a lot of places on this world where girls and women miss out on education and work because they don’t have the means to manage their menstruation. Sanitary pads are way too expensive or just not available. Less education means a smaller chance to get a job, and no work of course equals no money.
#MenstruationMatters & #MHD2017
The lack of pads and tampons and the disadvantages this causes, isn’t even the biggest problem. Proper sanitation (clean drinking water, functioning toilets, soap) isn’t available in many countries. Bad hygiene, together with the absence of improved sanitation and clean water, causes diarrhoea, which is one of the 10 leading causes of death in the world. Menstruating women are especially effected by the lack of proper sanitation; they sometimes use rags and leaves to stop their monthly flow. Bad menstrual hygiene can cause serious health problems as there’s an increased risk of infections.
Another challenge: dealing with the ancient menstruation myths and prejudices that still exist all over the world. Local traditions vary: in village A you aren’t allowed to cross a bridge during your monthly bleeding, in village B certain foods are off-limit and in village C it’s forbidden to shake hands with men. In some areas, like rural villages in the western part of Nepal, you’re banned from the house and have to stay in a secluded clay shed when menstruating. All those rules and bans mean that women are excluded from the social life on a monthly basis. That’s why MHD educational campaigns are targeted towards both women and men.
Last year, MHD (a Wash United initiative) was celebrated with 180 events in 34 countries. This year, for the first time also an event will be organised in the Netherlands. About time. Menstruation is way higher on the agenda in countries like England, America and Scandinavia. In fact, there’s a menstrual revolution going on in most of the world, with celebs asking for awareness, playful social media actions, protest demonstrations, political debates and serious media attention. Every day, new initiatives find their way to Period!’s editorial team. Art, poetry, music, film, cabaret, social media, podcasts, design, and education materials: all about the red taboo.
Want to join in? All events worldwide can be found on the MHD website. If you’re in the Netherlands, don’t miss the event on May 28 in Casco in Utrecht (organised by Charlotte Amrouche) with a talk by Period! founder Paula Kragten.
All that menstruation awareness. Great for countries like Uganda, Bangladesh and Kenya. But do we really still need it in the UK, Canada and the United States? If that’s what you’re wondering, you might want to consider answering these 10 questions first.
1. How many sanitary products do you actually throw away in your life?
2. Are there perhaps also more environmentally friendly alternatives?
3. What’s really inside your pads and tampons?
4. Why are sanitary products also considered luxury items in countries like Australia and the UK?
5. Why are there so many euphemisms for the word ‘menstruation’?
6. When is it time to visit a doctor?
7. What do you tell your children about menstruation?
8. What impact does the menstrual cycle have on medical complaints and medical research?
9. Why are we still ashamed about the whole subject of menstruation?
10. Shouldn’t period shame make way for period pride?
Like this goal? Spread the news via social media by using the hashtag #MenstruationMatters or #mhday2017. Want to know more? Check out Menstrualhygieneday.org