The Power of a Pad: Menstruation in the Developing World

Crimson Tide, Time of the Month, Female Troubles, Aunt Flo, On the Rag, and Red Tide. These are all euphemisms for menstruation that you’ve likely heard before.  A study conducted by the International Women’s Health Coalition found that there are about 5,000 slang words used to refer to menstruation in 10 different languages.

Still a Dirty Word

Though using these terms may seem innocent enough, it is indicative of a larger trend in attitudes regarding menstrual health around the globe. Menstruation is a necessary biological process and a key sign of reproductive health for over half of the global population. Yet it is still a dirty word in countries all over the world.

UN estimates suggest that approximately 1 in 10 African schoolgirls skips school during menstruation or drops out entirely due to a lack of clean and private sanitation facilities. And according to World Bank, at least 500 million women and girls globally lack adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management (MHM).

Lack of Clean Water Doesn’t Help

Inadequate sanitation facilities, particularly in public places, such as in schools, workplaces or health centers, can pose a major obstacle to women and girls. The lack of separate toilets with doors that can be safely closed, or the lack of a place to dispose of used sanitary pads, and water to wash their hands, means that women and girls face challenges in maintaining their menstrual health in a private, safe, and dignified way. Girls’ inability to manage their menstrual hygiene in schools, results in missing many days, which has severe economic consequences for her and her community. Escaping poverty becomes more difficult.

Meet Arbe!

Arbe is a 22-year-old woman who lives in Kenya. Before FH started working in her community, she remembers how poor access to menstruation supplies affected her in school. Arbe would often use old clothes to manage her period and would regularly miss school. When she did attend, she had a difficult time focusing on the teacher and classroom instructions. It affected her self esteem and didn’t even feel like she could tell her parents. In her community women would often retreat to designated areas and bleed on the ground.

Then friends like you sent FH into her community and all the girls in her school were provided sanitary pads and instructions on how to use them. This transformed Arbe. Now, she and the other girls in her school were no longer embarrassed and felt free to attend school every day. They even were able to teach their parents and others in the community what they had learned.

You Can Help.

Access to these hygiene kits and sanitary pads is transformational for girls in developing nations. You can give give a hygiene kit to a girl in Kenya just like Arbe. Your gift will equip her with the supplies she needs to stay in school the entire year! Buy a Hygiene Kit from our 2018 Gift Catalog now.