A woman’s monthly cycle is a common experience shared by all females. However, low income and lack of education make it extremely difficult to live a healthy period.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, one in 10 African girls must skip school because of their menstrual cycle. In Kenya, adolescents, on average, miss 4.9 days of school per month. In some cases, young women drop out of school because they don’t have access to sanitary products.
One of the main issues comes from inaccurate social beliefs and stigmatization about menstruation. In countries like India, there are regions where a woman’s cycle is a symbol of impurity. Due to a lack of awareness and education, females are not allowed to undergo household task, interact in public spaces and, in some cases, must remain isolated during their period.
The cost of feminine hygiene products can exceed the financial capacities of women who live below the poverty line. Families are forced to prioritize their daily expenditure; therefore, food and other basic needs are of upmost importance rather than sanitary pads. There are reports that show how girls between the ages of 10 and 19 are having sex in order to afford feminine hygiene products.
Women’s overall health is also at risk. In India, 70% of all reproductive diseases are caused by poor menstrual hygiene. To cope with their periods, girls use reusable cloths. However, they are washed without soap or clean water. In some places, women utilize other unhygienic substances such as sand, sawdust, leaves, and even ash.
Education is key in tackling the problem. However, people prefer not to think or talk about it. To achieve a healthier and more comfortable lifestyle, we need to first take down the culture of silence around periods.
Latin American Post | Laura Iguavita
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto