Dancer Bontle Modiselle commits to being ‘big’ sister to young girls

Dancer Bontle Modiselle at a World Menstrual Hygiene Day event held at the Garden Venue Hotel in Randburg.

Dancer Bontle Modiselle at a World Menstrual Hygiene Day event held at the Garden Venue Hotel in Randburg.

Published Jun 1, 2024


Dancer and leader of the #BloodSisters movement, Bontle Modiselle, shared psychologically challenging moments of her first encounter with menstrual hygiene as a young girl growing up in Soweto.

On Thursday, Modiselle led this year’s South African leg of the World Menstrual Hygiene Day at the Garden Venue Hotel in Randburg, where she gathered with young girls for the campaign.

A day of singing, dancing and mentoring saw young girls from various schools being empowered with knowledge and a spirit of sisterhood.

Sharing her story with youngsters, Modiselle recalled being embarrassed by the stigma of period poverty, and its psychological effect on her.

She also spoke about why it was important for celebrities to champion causes and raise awareness about critical issues affecting society.

This year’s South African campaign of the World Menstrual Hygiene Day was held at the Garden Venue Hotel in Randburg.

"I remember when I was really young I had run out of pads, and because it was seen as something very shameful, I wasn't confident enough in asking my teacher for help. True to the nature of what many girls do, the first thing I thought of was to go get a tissue, now you rolled it up and try to supplement it with something else to recreate what you think is a pad or is sufficient to help you for at least an hour or two.“

Modiselle urged other media personalities and older women to take on the role of big sisters to young women to help young girls regain their confidence.

“I'm sitting here thinking as a public figure, does it make sense for me to even admit something like this. But I think it's necessary to do that because if you have a familiar face who's a visible example of something they have gone through, or they know someone who's been through something like that, it gives them the confidence to say 'okay so maybe I am not that strange, or that weird ...and I am not the only one."

According to menstrual health experts, menstruation often poses psychological, social, and health challenges for adolescent girls in South Africa where periods continue to be stigmatised due to lack of knowledge and few resources to support and encourage open discussion around menstrual hygiene management.

These challenges particularly affect young women experiencing the onset of menstruation.

The discussion was also championed by P&G through its communications manager, Cassie Jaganyi, and senior market strategist, Clarissa Harris, who said their partnership with young girls went beyond a ticking box exercise to be a serious commitment to the issues affecting young girls.

Harris unpacked the vision behind Menstrual Hygiene Day and its direct link to the ‘Always Keeping Girls in School’ programme’s aim to break stereotypes, and taboos around menstruation.

She added: "There are still so many women who don't have access to menstrual education, and as a collective we try to give them education in line with the Always Keeping Girls in School initiative which has three core fundamentals

"It's about giving access to girls who don't have access to quality menstrual hygiene products like pads and breaking those stereotypes and stigma around menstruation. So I really think the core is about coming together as a collective, and also about girl-on-girl teachings and getting their voices heard,“ she said.

Saturday Star

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