In anticipation of the global Menstrual Health Day on May 28, 2016, let’s take this opportunity to talk about the link between girls’ education (and lives!) and menstruation.
As in many places worldwide, women and girls in our community struggle to find safe and hygienic ways to manage their periods. Sanitary napkins are often hard to find and prohibitively expensive. Myths around menstruation also tell girls their periods are dirty, shameful, unlucky, and even a disease. This stigma, combined with few affordable and safe options to manage menstruation, impedes girls’ access to education.
A growing body of research illuminates the extent of this problem. A recent study found that just 32% of rural schools in Kenya had a place for girls to privately change their menstrual hygiene product. Another showed Kenyan girls miss about 3-7 days of school each month because of menstruation. These data aren’t unique to Kenya either; this UNESCO report estimates that 1 in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa miss at least some school while on their period.
Each year, Menstrual Health Day reignites conversation about this crucial link between menstruation and keeping girls in school. At Kakenya’s Dream, we empower girls to take control of their own menstrual health. At the KCE boarding school, we educate girls about menstruation and provide sanitary napkins. Our nurse practitioner visits several times a week too, providing access to health care in case of infection or other concerns.
In order to fight the stigma and harmful myths around menstruation, our co-ed Health and Leadership Trainings give both boys and girls the facts. Now, boys are supporting and advocating for their menstruating peers.
Menstruation should not be a barrier to go to school. It’s a normal and healthy part of life, and providing girls the resources they need ensures they can be healthy and happy too.
JOIN US ON MENSTRUAL HEALTH DAY
We’ll be live-tweeting, instagramming, and posting on Facebook in the lead up to and during Menstrual Health Day. Connect with us on social media and use #MHday to join in the fun. (LINKS TO SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS)