We're in 2020, and you'd think we've moved past the age-old taboos into a better informed society. We polled several young women in offices, hospitals, schools and colleges. Yet not much seems to have changed. Here are a few things women are still being told even today.
1. If you're angry and you're a woman, you must be on your periods.
2. If you're in pain and you're a woman, you must be on your periods.
3. If you're walking funny and you're a woman, you must be on your periods.
4. You should have a separate room, utensils, rules even in your own home when on your periods.
5. Eating cold foods or drinks can freeze your flow.
6. You can't go to the gym, places of worship, or swim during your periods.
7. Cooking, washing your hair or touching milk or pickles during your periods - hell no!
8. PMS is a convenient lie that women use to get out of situations.
9. You cannot do a tarot reading when on your periods.
10. Periods make women vulnerable to the supernatural, and they are easily possessed.
11. Women's periods can be controlled and are voluntary. They have them every month because they enjoy the drama and days off.
If you're a woman, we're confident you'll have found plenty of them annoyingly familiar. Yet, if like us, you've rolled your eyes until they felt like they would fall out of your head, stop and ask yourself why?
Why is it that in the time of so much scientific progress, plenty of data and The Internet, we still haven't understood the basic physiological functioning of a woman's body? Liberated, thinking women of today may not want to have babies or be enslaved by these myths and falsehoods that surround periods. Yet, most are powerless in the face of ignorance and lack of proper education and awareness.
The thinking of our friends, colleagues, family members and neighbours all comes down to what they were taught while growing up. Whether you live in a city, a small town or a village, if having periods was considered normal instead of taboo, don't you think we would be having a different kind of conversation?
Young women aren't empowered with the facts of how there is nothing "impure" about periods. The need for education and awareness across the cultural and economic divide on this topic has never been more needed or necessary. Young girls should be prepared for the changes in their bodies and how to handle them. Education and introduction of sanitary napkins and proper water and toilet facilities can help girls stay in school and help working adult women even in more impoverished areas to stay gainfully occupied all through the year.
But change can only come when there is a movement that believes life can be better for all women with a simple switch. Girls and women of all ages need to start hearing new messages, not stale myths that have no foundation in reality. While women in cities have moved on to using sanitary pads, tampons or menstrual cups, 2/3rds of young girls in smaller towns and villages often don't have a clue about what's happening to them when they first experience periods. How and when do they deserve to know?
When they are young, and in their curriculum. While they are still in school and growing up, conversations about periods need to sound more like this:
● Spending money on hygiene and a sanitary napkin isn't a waste of money.
● Periods are times for us to be more aware of our flow, our menstrual patterns and the possibility of infections. Yet, it doesn't make you weak.
● You needn't be ashamed to buy a sanitary napkin any more than you would be to buy yourself toothpaste or soap.
● Used sanitary napkins needn't be hidden and disposed of when no one is looking.
● Using sanitary napkins can lower your risk of suffering from cervical cancer as opposed to those women who use unclean wads of cotton or rags.
● Cheaper is not necessarily better. Look for products and companies that are working to prove their commitment to timely menstrual hygiene education (especially post COVID).
Leading the charge, Whisper has provided menstrual health education and distributed free sanitary pads to 45 lakh girls across 40,000+ schools every year for the past three decades. Not only have they confronted period taboos head-on, but they have also educated and empowered women to create a livelihood by selling sanitary pads and becoming agents of change at the fundamental levels. This should be the legacy we leave for the generations of women to come. We need to envision a world where periods aren't a dirty word, and our government, social media and everyone around us is unafraid to address the issue, share information and help create a better and safer future for all.
If you'd like to be part of the change that will benefit women and young girls across the country, sign the petition here at www.periodofpride.com or give a missed call on 99996 71283 and pledge your support today
This is a partnered post.