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Menstruation Shouldn’t Hold Anyone Back. Period.

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At the 2020 Leadership Summit, Girl Up partners Always & Whisper co-hosted a workshop called “Menstruation Shouldn’t Hold Anyone Back. Period” which focused on menstrual health education and ways to work together to end period stigma and period poverty. If you’re one of the hundreds of Clubs working to improve menstrual health in your community, check out a summary of the workshop below, with lots of inspiring tips on how to drive change. And don’t forget to sign up for the this year’s Leadership Summit workshops and Day of Action on July 13-14!

Tackling Period Stigma

Journalist Heather Brooker helped us understand:

What sparks & perpetuates period stigma?

  • A lack of education.
  • A lack of openness when it comes to talking about periods.
  • The use of euphemisms like aunt flo & shark week.
  • Period myths and misinformation.
  • Information shared or not shared in media.

What negative impacts can period stigma have?

  • It can make people feel ashamed, embarrassed, or less confident because of their period.
  • It can prevent people from getting the information and support they need to navigate their periods, and their menstrual health, with confidence.
  • It can lead to periods not being discussed, or addressed, by decision and policy makers.
  • It holds us back from achieving gender equality!

What we can all do to start tackling period stigma?

  • Bring up periods in everyday conversations.
  • Use the right language – call a period a period and avoid euphemisms.
  • Call out people when they talk about periods in a shameful or stigmatized way – they probably don’t even realize they’re doing it, nor the impact it can have.
  • Bring boys & men into the conversation – it’s important that everyone understands and can talk about periods so that they can best support those that get them! 
Empowering Through Puberty & Period Education For All

Dr. Melissa Holmes, Ob-Gyn, had this to say, “Uncertainty is the root source of anxiety and fear, which can lead to a drop in confidence. We can overcome that with education – especially around our bodies and how they work. No one should ever be ashamed of our biology. Instead, we should be in awe and feel free to discuss & learn about it openly – it’s not only normal, but it’s also vital to humanity. And that doesn’t mean just people with periods should receive the education – it means everyone.”

The 5 Essential Pillars of Menstrual Knowledge

  • Know your body: see if you can name all the parts of a vulva & a female’s internal genitals:
  • Know the truth: discharge is normal; you are not dirty; your vulva looks terrific!
  • Know your options: experiment with different period products until you find your favorite(s)!
  • Know what’s normal:
    • You’re most likely to get your period between the ages of 10-16.
    • A period should normally last between 3-7 days.
    • On average a person will lose about 4 to 12 teaspoons of menstrual fluid during their period. But don’t worry…it will never spurt out all at once!
    • Many people have unpredictable periods for their first few cycles. But after a few periods they should come between every 21 to 45 days.
    • A person might experience PMS, or cramps, before or during the first few days of their period.
  • Know your resources:
    • Use trusted materials, such as Always’ Tips & Advice.
    • If you’re worried about your cycle, flow or pain, speak to a trusted adult or doctor.
Enabling Access To Period Products

Always & Whisper’s Global Social Impact Director, Charlotte Le Flufy, helped us understand the latest data on period poverty & what we can do to help address it.

The data:

  • U.S.:
    • Pre-pandemic, 1 in 5 girls missed school because they did not have access to the period products they needed. Now, 1 in 4 are struggling with period poverty.
    • ~50% of girls who missed school think it negatively impacted their performance.
    • Getting access to products helps girls feel relieved (43%) and supported (35%).
  • India:
    • 1 in 4 girls drop out of school when they start their period.
    • 93% of girls in rural India miss 1-2 days of school on average every month.
  • Brazil:
    • Period poverty impacts 1 in 4 girls
    • Many girls are forced to use toilet paper, socks, old cloths or newspapers.

Simple steps to take to help #EndPeriodPoverty:

  • Carry a spare period product with you.
  • Donate to local food banks & charities.
  • Set up a period product donation box (e.g., in a community hall, religious institution, sports center).

Want to encourage your school to provide free period products?

  • Think about who you need to talk to & how will you reach them (e.g., do you need to speak to your principal? Could you arrange an after-school meeting or attend a parent-teacher organization meeting, etc).
  • Think about what their goals are and how your proposal will help them (e.g., by helping students stay in school & stay focused on learning, attendance and academic achievement can increase).
  • Think about what counter arguments they could have to your proposal & how you would address them (e.g., cost, logistics of where to supply them & how).
  • Be persistent & follow up!

Got questions? DM Girl Up partner @always_brand on Instagram for more information!

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