BY EVIE JEPP
Imagine waking up embarrassed. Embarrassed of your gender and ashamed of your lack of power to control anything around you. Yet, you get up, preparing to walk 3 hours to school but that hope of receiving an education is spoiled when you realise you have your period. School is out of the question as there is no way to hide the issue from your classmates. You wrap dirty cloth around your waist and put cow dung into the cloth because this is the only way you know of soaking up the blood. It feels like your insides are being ripped out of your stomach, tied in a knot and put back, yet, despite this, you have to walk with your mother to fetch water that isn’t even clean, but is all you have.
Stories like this are reality for girls in developing countries on their period.
According to Days for Girls, a study in Ethiopia shows that girls who didn’t use pads when they had their period were 5.37 times more likely to miss school. Of those who did miss school during menstruation, 56.05% of them reported that they did so because they could not access menstrual hygiene products and others said they felt pain and discomfort.
However, there are groups working hard to provide support for girls during these uncomfortable times because no one should struggle alone and women shouldn’t be debilitated every month simply because of their periods. Days for Girls (DfG) is a supportive network of volunteers from all corners of the globe that chip in to provide girls with feminine hygiene kits, training, and health education.
Days for Girls has provided over 640 00 women and girls in developing countries with access to feminine hygiene and share a vision to provide every girl and women with access to feminine hygiene by 2022.
With currently 4 clubs in Perth, DfG have sewing groups where you can make reusable sanitary pads, as well as bright bags which are given to girls in developing countries filled with new underwear, sanitary pads, travel soaps and ultimately the hope and confidence to take these bags to school while they are menstruating.
Training and education
With DfG’s goal to “empower every woman and girl to become an Ambassador of Women’s Health, in her school, her neighbourhood, and her community”, it is vital for education within these communities to take place. Teachers and respected women within these communities are becoming the educators who create a safe and self-reliant environment where women can be free of the misconceptions of puberty and feel empowered to talk about what they are experiencing. One of DfG’s new curriculum is the introduction of the “Men Who Know” curriculum which incorporates a sense of pride in men that don’t discriminate against their daughters, nieces and friends when they are menstruating.
A study in Ghana shows that Days For Girls has contributed to the growing confidence of girls in schools where 96.8% of participating school girls felt ‘more confident’ while wearing pads during their period and 98.4% felt that they were able to concentrate better at school.
You might be thinking, where do I come into all of this?
They need your help! Girls, boys, children, teenagers and adults can all help empower young women in a plethora of different ways:
- You can donate money – for more information visit their website here.
- Join a DfG club– this can be in sewing or becoming an advocate for the organisation find a club near you here.
- Spread awareness – educate yourself get talking to your friends, teachers, parents! Everyone has a woman in their life that menstruates; let’s make it normal to talk about!
- Get your school involved – approach teachers or fellow students and work together to spread the message.
Every small step towards social change is a positive one so let’s work together to ensure every girl and woman can feel free from the restraints of their period so they can continue to change the world.