This an article I wrote following a training on Menstrual heath Education that I attended in Kampala, Uganda starting 27th April to 1st May, 2015 that, unfortunately, never got published as anticipated.
The future of girls in East Africa remains bleak as many are dropping out of school due to, among others, menstrual related challenges. The society’s stereotypes inculcated in them pertaining menstruation being a curse, makes the girl child believe that their future is bleak the moment they spot blood on their underwear. In Uganda, 61% of girls admit to missing school due to their menstrual period, the numbers continue to soar with each passing moment of our ignorance and the statistics are bound to rocket if we do not act on menstruation without hesitation.
Irise International, a UK charity, organized a training on Menstrual Health Management at Entebbe in Uganda from 27th April to 1st May, 2015. An eye-opener for the Irise ambassadors who were in attendance and a reiteration of what we all know but take obvious. Providing education on menstrual hygiene is paramount. In order to break the silence and rise above the stigma, girls need to be enlightened on the normal physiological process they are bound to undergo; menstruation, because girls matter.
Light needs to be shed on the facts and the myths used by society to put the girl child down. In addition, men need to understand that menstrual hygiene management affects them directly because everyone is a product of a missed period however much they consider women “unclean creatures.” These beautiful, promising young girls should not be bashed, perturbed or miss opportunities because they are menstruating instead, we should empower the girl child to be bold and unshakable on matters concerning her menstruation cycle. Statements such as, “I cannot trust a creature that bleeds for five days and does not die” from our male counterparts are demeaning, disheartening and exposes men’s ignorance on this global phenomenon; menstruation.
The lack of clean water in some areas, sanitation and medical care has negative consequences, especially for the female members. Menstruating girls and women are forced to use mattresses, old cloths, drying them in moist places this, almost always lead to vaginal infections. This is because menstruation is a taboo issue and menstruating girls are flushed to open up about their menstruation.
In addition, there are different ways of relieving painful cramps and getting pregnant is not an effective method. Alternatively, one can take painkillers, exercise, place a warm water bottle on the stomach and incase of severe dysmenorrhea or menorrhagia, a health care should be contacted.
The constant emphasis on our patriarchal society is counterproductive since it takes two to tango. The facilitators of this training spiked my interest the most since they gave up their daily routine and commitments to come and echo how serious menstrual health education is to us and to our sisters, brothers, parents and friends. You can corroborate with me that most people expect a stipend even after offering to volunteer therefore, these facilitators are an inspiration to me and my fellow ambassadors and they should be to you too because if they can, why wouldn’t you?
Last but not least, this training in Entebbe, Kampala taught me many new skills for instance I was able to learn how voluminous effect one’s body language and choice of words has on a conversation. For instance, when trying to convince a chauvinistic, misogynistic set to win politician that women’s anatomy is not something to be used against them. Therefrom, this menstrual hygiene day, break the silence, become a superhero and help to ensure that no girl is ever held back by her period! Act on menstruation without hesitation by supporting friends, teaching others and keeping girls in school. Be your own super hero.