"Damn it, I forgot to add my Tampax compak pearl tampons to my Ocado delivery…I’ll just pop into the Sainsbury’s local at the end of the road and get some on the way to work tomorrow"
Being able to walk into a shop and buy tampons or sanitary towels is something we often take for granted. Whilst the debate about taxation of these products in the UK and other countries rages on, many of us are not aware that in many parts of the world this is a luxury that many women do not have. This is why the international organization ‘WASH United’ initiated Menstrual Hygiene Day, which falls every 28th May with the aim of raising awareness of the fundamental role that adequate menstrual hygiene plays in the lives of women and girls worldwide.
In the absence of available sanitary products or the means to afford them, women are instead forced to use unhygienic substitutes such as old clothes, mattress fibres, and newspaper. Whilst many of you reading this may be shocked to realise that women are subjected to such conditions, you are unlikely to be surprised when I tell you that these practices can increase the risk of infections that may have serious implications for future reproductive and gynaecological health.
About a year ago I started working with an amazing charity called Raise the Roof, which works in partnership with the Kenyan Government, communities, and local organisations to establish sustainable community projects. Poor access to adequate sanitation and sanitary products is estimated to result in 3.5 million days of school absenteeism per month in Kenyan girls, which can result in disengagement and poor academic performance. Raise the Roof have been working with Days for Girls to supply over 45,000 school girls and women with menstrual hygiene kits containing sustainable, reusable pads and liners to ensure our girls can continue to go to school throughout the month with comfort and dignity.
However, it’s not just commodities that are needed to solve this problem. We need increasing awareness, to fight stigma and educate men and women on the importance of menstrual hygiene in order to implement policy changes.
Shockingly a recent poll by ActionAid revealed that 1 in 5 women in the UK feels uncomfortable talking about their periods, and 1 in 4 don’t understand their menstrual cycle. SO there’s only on thing to do…stay tuned for more period chat.