I was 22 and it didn't matter, I had no money to buy sanitary pads and that sealed the deal; I wasn't going to work!
I had just received a positive reply for a job I had applied for after a dry spell of not working and I was excited and at the same time in fear. Excited to finally be independent, making good money from a great job but scared out of my mind because I was intimidated by the job and all it came with.
You see, I was working with some foreigners who came to Cameroon for a project as a Cheif Accountant. I was only 22-years-old but my qualifications vouched for my capabilities to do the job. I had all the qualifications on paper but lacked the confidence and boldness required to blend in at the workplace with such a sophisticated and learned crowd. I felt like a fraud!
And to make matters worse I had a boss who was hard to deal with and expected me to perform at sky rocket level. "I am new at this, I don't have the practical training," I thought, but the show had to go on and I had to work at being my best.
I reached a roadblock when I had my period about 2 weeks into the job. I had been trying to make ends meet and was so low in cash that I trekked to work being unable to pay for a cab. How on earth will I get the 700 frsrequired to buy sanitary pads? I was still to receive my first salary and too naive to know that I could ask for a salary advance.
I managed the first day with toilet tissue wrapped up and placed on the lining of my pants. I had to save my toilet tissue at home so I made sure I only had changes of pads at the office.
I was so insecure that I stayed holed up in my office the whole day for fear that my pad was either sticking out at the back beneath my buttocks or would roll off and fall down while I walked. I dreaded being called to my boss' office because I couldn't concentrate on anything he said but was instead so self-conscious and concerned about myself.
I was so sure that my skirt was stained as I hurriedly left work and rushed home later that day. My level of discomfort on that day was pretty high, so high thatI decided not to go to work the next day.
If you have ever been at a job where you are working on eggshellsyou would understand the consequences I was liable to face for being absent from work! But the shame of my period blinded me, coupled with the fact that I had yet to fit in at work.
I called in sick for two days in a row, just to let the days of heavy flow pass before making my way back to work. My boss was not pleased and this did not help my position at work but as a woman, when something as fundamental as blood flowing from your intimate parts is happening, you put can put everything at a standstill until you feel comfortable again. Comfort during menstruation can never be undermined. Now I see men talking about menstruation issues on the World Menstruation Day and this makes me relieved. The main individuals I feared were my male colleagues at work.
I recently read an article on Worldpulse RWANDA: Our periods should be a source of Pride andPower and the author referred to helping girls be able to create their own sanitary pads. I think this is an awesome idea! Economic hardshipis a fact of life for many girls but if we can be empowered to take positive action to help ourselves by creating what we need, I believe it will be our pride.
Had I been able to produce sanitary pads for myself, I would have had one less problem to deal with at the initiation stages of my new job.
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Empower girls! Support young women be creative in meeting their needs. Blandine, Rwanda