Today, I feel the need to unleash a rant. My inspiration? The avalanche of banter and senseless shame that has flooded Twitter from yesterday when Record breaking Hilda’s manager dared to reveal that she shattered records while on her period. Now, a woman fearlessly cooking for 100 straight hours during her periods should be all the motivation we need this year, right? But oh well, some people just won’t accept it. Can you believe that many people have the audacity to claim that this menstruation talk is unnecessary? Are we not allowed to discuss the most natural process known to womankind? Hearing and seeing so many people say that this was not necessary is crazy because a natural process is not necessary to speak about? Eh! It’s truly mind-boggling to see period stigma still thriving in this big 2023!
You don’t know the damage that this stigma can cause -it goes as far as death I kid you not. Wama don’t you remember the tragic story of the 12-year-old girl who lost her life at the hands of her 30-year-old brother or the girl who was driven to take her own life after being shamed by her own teacher? It’s heartbreaking. We must abolish stigma and these irrational conceptions around menstruation for real and ASAP! I remember when I was younger even saying that you are on your period was like breaking a sacred taboo. My friends and I transformed into little secret agents, executing covert operations whenever we needed to change our pads at school. Passing a pad to a friend became a clandestine drug deal, as if we were evading the clutches of the police and the FBI. Only to hide what is a natural process that happens to almost half of the world’s population…
Ahh, the delightful world we’ve grown up in, where periods are viewed as dirty, disgusting secrets that must never be spoken of openly. How did we end up here, you ask? Well, one culprit is the lack of comprehensive menstrual health education we receive as we grow up and even as adults. It’s really high time we ramp up the efforts to teach comprehensive menstrual health and management, starting at a tender age as early as p.2 btw.
You see, the lack of comprehensive Menstrual education is one of the primary sources of period shame and stigma, not only in Uganda but in countless parts of the world. Where education does exist, it often begins later in a person’s life – sometimes even after girls have begun their first period. The result of not educating girls about menstruation before it starts means that their initial reaction is likely to involve fear, shame and embarrassment. Additionally, poor menstrual education means a lack of knowledge around what menstrual hygiene products are out there. As a result, many women, girls, and people do not have real control over the products they use, and do not have the ability to dispose of or clean these products in an appropriate manner, in line with personal, environmental, cultural, and other considerations. No woman, girl, or person who menstruates should start their period without knowing what is happening to their body, and without access to sanitary products.
I believe that, that and many other reasons is also why there is not enough research on women’s reproductive health and that’s why you see women silently endure the trials and tribulations of reproductive issues, only daring to raise their voices when the pain becomes unbearable. But, my friends, again, when we engage in open, healthy discussions about menstruation, we begin chipping away at the walls of stigma that confine us.
NOT SO FUN FACT: Language perpetuates period shame. Calling it things like “Kiiba” or “ensoonga”, “The reds” may seem harmless really but they reinforce the idea that periods are shameful and something to talk about in code. It’s time to reclaim the power of our words and embrace an open dialogue about menstruation.
Now, my friends, Let’s take a break from the ranting and move on to something truly exciting! I am delighted to share about the UNDO The TABOO campaign, organised by Reach A Hand Uganda and partners. This is not your everyday menstrual hygiene campaign-this is a continuous journey of mental and menstrual wellbeing, with a focus on climate justice and the interconnectivity of these issues. The campaign will kick off with a power event that will include fun art sessions, information centres, a wellness centre, and exhibition tents with specific places for various implementing partners for you to visit, learn, and fully immerse yourself in the menstrual health experience. They will have goodies, and performances too! You don’t want to miss out on this, believe me!(Besides, my pretty face will be there too!)
Drop by Motiv Bugolobi this Sunday to physically be a part of this campaign and also to give on to the cause if you can!
You too can be apart of the online team by adding your voice on #UndoTheTaboo
Kale bye friends naye don’t stop speaking OPENLY about periods as it will help us to break free from the chains of stigma and usher in an era where periods are greeted with understanding, support, and knowledge.
Let’s all endeavour to educate, empower, and embrace the beauty of menstruation. Together, we can undo the taboo, one period at a time.
What are your thoughts on menstruation and period stigma? Share with me your thoughts and you can also let me know what else you’d want me to rant (read talk) about in the comments or send a quick email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Take great care of yourselves, friends!