In the US, we’re often uncomfortable talking about periods. Even when we’re talking about it among other women. But in parts of the world, the discomfort experienced from a period goes far beyond social discomfort. In some countries, girls aren’t allowed inside the house during their period. They aren’t allowed to touch their family members. They aren’t allowed to speak to their neighbors. There is a stigma of “uncleanliness” that is deeply rooted in some cultures around the world.
In Kenya, a period doesn’t just mean cramps and inconveniences, it means staying home from school if you don’t have enough money for sanitary products. It means potential health risks because of improper hygiene or lack of access to clean water. In some communities, the women will bleed straight onto the ground. In Kenya, having a period could mean not finishing your education which could lead to many other challenges in the future. Statistically, girls who are unable to complete their educations have a higher risk of entering into child marriages or experiencing domestic violence.
Qabale is a 15-year-old girl from Kenya. She has three brothers and no sisters. Before she received sanitary products through FH, Qabale talks about her experience with her period.
“Before we didn’t have pads, we used papers or clothes during our period. It was not comfortable. When going to school it (blood) would sometimes leak and I would feel bad. I would also get a lot of pain.”
Qabale goes on to say how she would need to stay home about four days in a row because going to school with her period was too much of a challenge. Four days every month means that by the end of the year, Qabale will have missed almost seven full weeks of school. She also said how using a paper of cloth for too long would affect her health and that if her mom needed to buy her sanitary products, it would sometimes mean that they couldn’t afford to eat dinner.
Qabale stands outside her home in Kenya, smiling after receiving menstrual hygiene products.
According to UNICEF, women and girls who have disabilities or special needs have even more challenges in managing their periods. This is due to factors including expensive menstrual hygiene products, lack of toilet accessibility, and social stigmas around periods.
Through FH, Qabale received a girl hygiene kit which gave her the supplies she needed to stay in school the entire year. Before the girls in her school had access to sanitary products, there were more boys in school. Now, there are currently more girls attending school.
Qabale wants to become a doctor in the future and provide other girls with the sanitary products they need. She says, “I am now free.” Qabale wants other girls to experience the freedom she feels now.
Being a girl shouldn’t be this hard. Period. Click here to provide one girl with a kit so she can be successful in school and beyond.
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