All posts tagged: Menstruation

Raising Awareness of Menstruation and Sustainability in India

During a visit to Auroville, India a couple of days ago I was happy to have the opportunity to chat briefly with Eco Femme co-founder Kathy Walkling in between customers at their busy stall at the market. I had already heard about Eco Femme before I came to India and I was exited to meet the people behind it in real life. I wanted to get to know more about their important work on raising awareness of menstrual hygiene and sustainability among rural women in the state of Tamil Nadu. Eco Femme was founded in 2010 and in collaboration with the Auroville Village Action Group – an NGO working for womens’ empowerment in rural Tamil Nadu – they started to design and produce eco-friendly, washable cloth pads for sale worldwide. The cloth pads are stitched by women in self-help groups who have been trained in advanced tailoring. The women run their own collective tailoring unit and Eco Femme, whose monthly production order alone provides a full time livelihood to 7 women, is just one of their customers. The cloth pads …

Involving Men and Boys in Efforts to Achieve a #BetterLife4Girls

One may wonder why men and boys involvement in matters like teenage pregnancies and child marriages is important. Well, it is clearly because behind every teenage pregnancy or child marriage, there is a male involved. In the wake of the movement to end child marriage and teenage pregnancy, young people, parents, religious, cultural  and community leaders have to be called to action. Because these are issues that affect girls directly, it is of peculiar interest how pivotal the male voice has to be to make sure that the plight of a better life for girls is heard. The fight for gender equality remains incomplete without male involvement as we stated earlier this year here on Girls Globe and we won’t repeat the statistics. One part of of our agenda, from our recently concluded community dialogues in the eastern part of Uganda on ending under-age marriages and teenage pregnancies by Reach A Hand, Uganda supported by UNFPA Uganda, was to capture voices of men and boys as a way to continue involving them in anti child marriage and teenage …

Girls Shouldn’t Feel Ashamed at That Time of the Month – Period!

My name is Barbara Namuddu, a peer educator with Reach A Hand, Uganda (RAHU) and I would like to tell you a story. A story that am not afraid to talk about because I am a girl and am proud to say that being a girl is not a punishment. I have been volunteering with RAHU for nine months now under the Peer Educators Academy program where I have had an opportunity to interact with my peers in schools. My interaction is mainly premised on listening to their issues so that I, as a peer educator armed with the right information, can help them overcome their challenges. It’s not a surprise that as a girl, fellow girls always feel open to share problems that they go through with me since they know that I, have also gone through the same. I am sure any girl reading this is nodding her head in agreement. From the peer learning sessions I conduct, I always find out so many terrible tales happening to young girls in school (but …

“Shake S**t Up!”: Kiran Gandhi Talks Stigma

Yesterday morning I stopped by a small shop. I had woken up to my period in the most inconvenient of all it’s forms – the surprise period – so I didn’t have anything in the way of supplies. I picked up a box of tampons, but my heart sank when I saw three men standing behind the counter. I thought maybe I would put the box down. Or maybe I could pick up lots of other things to buy too, as distractions? Or maybe I didn’t even need them, maybe it wasn’t even a proper period? Nope, stomach cramps and inexplicable levels of sweating, definitely for real. Aware of my own absurdity, I told myself I was an idiot and paid, avoiding eye contact with the man behind the desk who picked up the box like you might do an undetonated bomb in your family home. Fast forward a few hours and I sat down to a series of Women Deliver “TED-style” talks. I was excited to see Kiran Gandhi’s name on the list – …

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 …

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 …

Menstrual Health: There’s an App for That

Women’s options for birth control have become increasingly more diverse since it’s creation.  NaturalCycles, a Swedish company, is capitalizing on this momentum and providing women a revolutionary contraception option: the smartphone. NaturalCycles’ mobile app uses an algorithm based on a woman’s daily body temperature to determine her fertility level. There are no surgical procedures, daily pills or chemicals. Instead, the app user is getting to know her body and its natural cycles and can make educated decisions based on the data provided. The only requirement is for the woman to take her temperature each morning and based on this data, the app uses a calendar to mark the days that a woman is most fertile.  She can then make an educated sexual decision based on her fertility and desire to conceive.  This calendar empowers women to understand their bodies without the continued cost, burden and side effects of hormonal contraception. To support the technology, NaturalCycles is also contributing to general sexual education with this strong resource for information about the menstrual cycle, irregular cycles, fertility indicators and …

Marathons While Menstruating

On Sunday morning I went to a hotel fitness room for a run. While on the treadmill, I heard news about US politician Donald Trump. Referring to Meghan Kelly, the news moderator who hosted a republican debate that he participated in, Trump said that during the debate she had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her — wherever.” Her wherever meant her vagina; he was talking about menstruation. Mentioning menstruation is perhaps the quickest and easiest way to disregard, disempower and disadvantage girls and women. Menstruation is a normal biological function, but, happening to the female half of the population, it has been a symbol of weakness, emotion and incapability for centuries. Gloria Steinem mused that if men could menstruate, “clearly, menstruation would become an enviable, worthy, masculine event.” Still frustrated over Trump’s comments, off of the treadmill I received some positive menstruation news: 26 year old Kiran Gandi ran the London Marathon while on her period- without using a pad or tampon. Kiran, who had been training for a year …

Girls’ Voices Matter

This post was authored by Ariel Cerrud and Nicole Cheetham of Advocates for Youth, a member of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. In a sea of experts, government leaders, advocates, and law-makers, it’s easy to lose sight of who knows best about the lives of adolescent girls: adolescent girls themselves. Often, and to our detriment, the international development community fails to appreciate the unique needs of adolescent girls and the valuable insights they can bring to our programs and policies.  Girls’ voices and opinions are strong, their ideas are informed by direct experience, and their contributions often make organizations more effective. Like many members of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls, at Advocates for Youth we envision a society in which all young people are valued, respected, and treated with dignity. Valuing young people, especially adolescent girls, means authentically involving them in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the programs and policies that affect their health and well-being. By working directly with young leaders, especially girls in the global south, we can empower them to advocate for …

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 …