Author: iriseinternational

It’s time to talk about periods.

Irise International works to support the education and empowerment of women and girls in East Africa through addressing the neglected issue of menstrual hygiene management. In this series of blogs, we look at how menstrual hygiene can affect all girls in a range of cultures and environments. In this blog, Noni Bryson, an Irise Volunteer, looks at our work in Uganda and the importance of breaking the period taboo. To find out more about Irise please visit http://www.irise.org.uk. There comes a day for every girl when everything will change. The day they start their period. For some this will be a joyful change, they have officially become a woman, but for others it can be unnerving. Adjusting to this change in the UK can be difficult, such as making sure you have enough tampons or pads for a full day at school or the worry of people teasing you. For many girls in Uganda, this day often brings fear of illness and stops them from making the most of their school experience. Across East Africa, a …

Confused about Periods? You are not alone

Irise International works to support the education and empowerment of women and girls in East Africa through addressing the neglected issue of menstrual hygiene management. In this series of blog, we look at how menstrual hygiene can affect all girls in a range of cultures and environments. In this blog, Amelia Savell-Boss talks about the importance of education about menstrual hygiene. To find out more about the work Irise do please visit http://www.irise.org.uk. This will be my third year volunteering for Friends of Irise and during that time I have learnt a phenomenal amount about gender equality, female empowerment, menstrual hygiene management and even the female reproductive system, genitalia and periods in general. In April 2015 I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to volunteer for Irise International as a research assistant in Uganda for 8 weeks. While there, I helped conduct some of the vital research that we hope is going to help women and girls access safe, sustainable and reliable sanitary products. This will enable women and girls to be able to …

Why taxing tampons is bad for the world

Irise International works to support the education and empowerment of women and girls in East Africa through addressing the neglected issue of menstrual hygiene management. In this series of blogs, we look at how menstrual hygiene can affect all girls in a range of cultures and environments. In the first of these blogs, Laura Coryton, a guest blogger, explains the detrimental effect tampon tax can have on gender identity and involvement in society in the UK. All over the world women and girls are held back from their full potential, and we want this to change. To find out more about the work Irise do please visit http://www.irise.org.uk. Sanitary tax is a damaging worldwide phenomenon that needs to end. Period. Hundreds of governments across the globe implement a tax on menstruation: a natural bodily function that happens whether we want it to or not. A small tax on tampons, sanitary pads and mooncups may seem justifiable in theory (everything has to be taxed just a little, right?) but in practice and in context it exacerbates …

Why Plan UK is Shouting Loud and Proud about Menstruation

Written for Irise by Cathy Stephen – WASH Advisor at Plan UK. How many nicknames do you know for a women’s time of the month? Here are a few that come to mind: Aunt Flo On the Rag I’m at a Red Light Surfing the Crimson Tide Checked into Red Roof Inn I’m having the painters in tomorrow Riding the cotton pony Curse of Dracula Leak Week My Dot On the blob Miss Scarlett has returned to Tara Smoking a lady cigar Monthly Oil Change Few people want to talk directly about the topic of menstruation. It’s labelled as a topic for schools to deal with or for women (quietly, behind closed doors please) to talk about. Try asking a man in your office or home about it and they will most likely find it uncomfortable and awkward. Women and adolescent girls around the world spend about 3,500 days of their life menstruating, but it remains a taboo topic in their lives. Since it is experienced and managed by girls and women, it often has a quieter voice and a …

Nakame’s tales

Written by Rose  I loved Wednesday lessons.Every Wednesday, Pilawo ( brown rice) was offered  for lunch at my high school. After days of posho, I looked forward to this delicacy. Immediately, I heard the sound of the bell. I stood up and my light blue uniform was wet and stained. Questions ran through my mind. Did I sit in tomato sauce? Have I been bewitched? I had no idea what was happening. A fellow girl, immediately noticed and quickly came to my aid with a sweater to tie around my waist. Another girl was noticed my dilemma and told me to have ”bread” which was another term for sanitary type napkins. She explained this was a private issue. One year after my menstrual cycle began, I still did not understand what was happening in my body. I started to have pains on the first day of my period and crawled to the school matron’s door. My matron is my mother at school and she comforted me. She told me the pain would cease when I give birth to a child. I started to look forward to having a child. …

Breaking the Silence

Written by Amelia Savell-Boss I have been volunteering with Friends of Irise since 2013 and it only occurred to me after a few months of campaigning, fundraising and educating that I was talking about issues I no longer had to deal with. I am a ‘non-menstruator’ thanks to my Progesterone Only Pill (POP) which is an oral contraceptive. I have been taking the pill for about 4 years. One of the most common side effects is it stops your period. A terrifying concept at first as my initial thoughts being, ‘where does it all go?’ ‘If I stop taking it will I have the world’s most massive period?’ I cannot claim to understand the science of it all but I must admit that I am hugely thankful that it stopped what I considered to be a painful, arduous and at times very inconvenient process. I had my first period at a neighbour’s house, I thought I felt something funny down below and ran to the bathroom to check it out. I secretly hoped it might be …

Periods Change Lives: Just a girl – yet a woman now

An original poem Written by Chandiru Barbra – Mackay Memorial College Nateete She was just a girl With the simplicity And naivity of childhood The world too friendly All faces smiling at her Never afraid of rising For shoulders were provided for her Never afraid of falling For her dreams seemed too clear She was just a girl   Whose mother was never open to her Her face full of innocence All realities of life seemed a mystery Her generality admired by all Some genuine and others lustful But she was never afraid Bred and protected by love Until the day   The day every one laughs Scared and terrified she cries Giggling and booing by people People she once adored What on earth is wrong? Her beautiful dress Stained … Stained with blood. “What on earth is wrong?”   Rushing to the bathroom She not hurt Yet the blood still flows All her friends laugh She screams but does not know why “Is this so normal?”   Yes it is Part of growing up Is …

Periods Change Lives: Clueless Dad

An Original Poem Written by Yvonne Nyatundo – Maseno University Daddy listen to me Please listen I barely slept last night The pain was exhilarating What is happening to me? Daddy listen to me Please listen My abdomen hurts It’s bloated What is happening to me? Daddy listen to me Please listen Boys laughed at me When they saw blood on my skirt What is happening to me? Daddy listen to me Please listen My hips are broadening Don’t you see? What is happening to me? Daddy listen to me Please listen You shook your head puzzled Your expression clueless What is happening to me? Daddy listen to me Please listen I’m scared I’m ashamed What is happening to me? Daddy listen to me Please listen You should know I need answers What is happening to me? All dad’s please participate in the World Menstrual hygiene day (28th May, MH day) so as to be more knowledgeable on menstruation and evade such clueless moments with your daughters. Watch the Periods Change Lives video  

Periods Change Lives: Broken Dreams

An Original Poem Written by Akello Charlotte – Makere University A s a young girl My dream was to study hard Get a bright future Grow into a big girl. I worked hard in school Nothing seemed to deter me The future seemed so bright. Great job Great house Great car And of course children. It wasn’t until one day, Seated in class I find blood on my cloth I rush to the toilet. No water to clean myself. I use papers to try and stop the blood I can’t go back to class The blood is so scary Could it be that am sick? Or a bad omen? Or a disease? Am caught up in a dilemma? No one cares Everyone runs away from me Laughing at me No one to hold my hand. I rush home Too confused to tell anyone Mother suggests I stay home It seems the best to do I suffer in silence. So I use rugs The pain is much I stay in bed Am I cursed? I miss school I …

Menstrual Hygiene Explored: Capturing the Wider Context

Written by Irise’s Guest Writer Chris Bobel, Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston This blog is part of Irise International’s #12DaysofChristmas Campaign. This summer, I bought a new camera. I needed it to snap pictures during a research trip to India where I explored diverse approaches to Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM). I chose a sleek, high tech device with a powerful, intuitive zoom. In Bangalore, I captured the sweet intimacy of two schoolgirls as they watched the menstrual health animated video “Mythri” at a government school. In Tamil Nadu, I used my zoom for close shots of skilled women tailors sewing brightly colored cloth menstrual pads for the social business, Eco Femme. In South Delhi, I used my zoom to preserve the mounds of cloth painstakingly repurposed as low cost menstrual pads at NGO Goonj. But here’s the problem. These close up shots may please the eye, but they leave out the context that surrounds and shapes each photo’s subject. And what exists outside the frame is at least as important …