Steps to help destigmatise menstruation and change the narrative
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The stigma around menstruation is still felt in several parts of the world, where certain societies deem it to be unclean and ostracise females.
It's been reported that in Venezuela, Nepal and India, girls and women who are menstruating are forced to isolate themselves in huts for the duration of their cycle.
In Ghana, females on their menstrual cycle are not allowed to enter a house with a male or cook food.
According to “Menstrual Health Management in East and Southern Africa”, a report commissioned by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) revealed that shame and misinformation undermined the well-being of women and girls.
The study confirmed that this leaves them vulnerable to gender discrimination, child marriage, exclusion, violence, poverty, and untreated health problems.
While chatting with Candice Chirwa, a menstruation activist and social entrepreneur, she said that the simplest way to eradicate period stigma is to talk about it freely and honestly, with no secrecy or vagueness.
She added: "We should also refrain from using code words such as Aunt Flo, Red Robot, Time of the Month so that people can be used to hearing about menstruation as the normal and natural biological function that it is.
"Furthermore, period companies should create advertising that paints the real realities of menstruation to ensure that period myths and taboos are being debunked."
Last month, a menstrual hygiene brand, Kotex, launched a campaign in the hope of starting conversations, raising awareness and debunking stereotypes around period.
People on social media, on the other hand, believed the campaign was not relatable and that it misinterpreted the realities surrounding menstruation.
The point we are trying to put across is, being on periods is nothing compared to what your campaign is portraying. Dismiss the whole concept /campaign and go back to the drawing board, this time use the information we have shared. https://t.co/FwqZMtbRSf— Oenophile (@tsholo_rosey) April 16, 2021
What is the way forward?
Open the dialogue around the topic of menstruation
Menstruators and non-menstruators alike should freely and openly talk about menstruation and its realities.
Menstruators and non-menstruators alike, according to Chirwa, should be taught about their menstrual health through educational initiatives.
Corporate social investment (CSI)
Menstrual hygiene brands should incorporate CSI programmes that seek to build infrastructure in schools for young menstruators to adequately manage their menstruation.
The most critical aspect, according to Chirwa, is for the government and civil society to develop policies that address period poverty in schools and workplaces holistically.