Every month, 800 million girls and women around the world get their periods. Yet, we continue to talk about in the same, hushed tones we might discuss the office scandal. Not as the boringly normal, everyday, part of being human that it is.
And it is part of being human - because none of us would be here without periods. Yet, it continues to be ghettoised as a ‘women’s issue’. The stigma and mythology around periods continues to have wide-reaching impacts on the most vulnerable women. In some countries around the world, it’s widely believed that if a woman or girl with her period enters a kitchen, the food will go bad or rot.
In New Zealand, research shows that shame around menstruation is intrinsically linked with period poverty—or the inability to access period products.
If you’re trying to feed your family on 10 dollars a day, taking six dollars out for tampons is stressful, says Dignity NZ. And if you’re a girl in that family who can’t get decent period products, you’re not going to go to school and risk the embarrassment of leakage.
But the survey showed that when sanitary products were provided to schools, an eye-opening 81 percent of girls said it reduced their embarrassment. In addition, 72 percent of schools reported a drop in absentees, when period products were provided.
That is why this year Kimberly-Clark has partnered with The Salvation Army once again, and are generously donating packs of U by Kotex pads and tampons through a social media promotion. All you need to do is tag a friend on the U by Kotex AUNZ facebook campaign, and Kimberly-Clark will donate sanitary products to The Salvation Army to give to women in need.
You can also easily and quickly donate a Women’s Bundle online.
And ... instead of being silent and ashamed, we can be loud and proud about our periods.
‘For years we’ve obsessively silenced and euphemised periods. As experts in girls’ rights, we know that this has a negative impact on girls ... they’re missing out, and they can suffer health implications as a consequence,’ says Lucy Russell, head of girls rights and youth at Plan International UK, a leading campaigner for against period poverty. They led a campaign to create the first period emoji—which is now available to iPhone users.
We need to begin talking naturally about periods to our boys. We need to talk about it in the office. We need to tag each other in fantastic tampon and pad giveaways. We need to send each other period emojis.
Most of all, we need to make sure that everyone has access to period products and is able to live life fully. We need to make periods beautifully, fantastically, normal.