Today we join the rest of the world in commemorating World Menstrual hygiene day.
Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated annually on the 28th of May since 2014 to raise awareness, change negative conceptions on menstruation and engage decision makers in prioritization of Menstrual Hygiene Management for girls.
Menstruation negatively affects the average girl child due to lack of water and proper sanitation in schools, millions of girls lack a proper place to change their sanitary wear. Lack of sanitary wear during periods affects school work or even chances of making it to school on these days. Which eventually affects girls academic performance.
Myths, misconceptions and lack of information has led to shaming and stigmatising periods. Till now periods are thought to be a taboo subject that cannot be discussed in public, menstrual products are smuggled because they are not supposed to be seen by anyone.
This attitude has led to shaming and stigmatising of girls who stain themselves with periods.
On September 11, 2019 BBC reported in Kenya, a 14 year old girl who hanged herself after being shamed by her teacher and friends for staining her uniform with periods.
Should we then continue under estimating the effects of menstrual shaming? No, menstrual talk should be normalised!!
On Oct 2, 2019, the Zambian Parliament unanimously supported the motion which urged government to provide adequate sanitation and sanitary towels to girls in public schools.
A very progressive move that if implemented will improve the school attendance and academic performance of girls especially in rural areas.
Menstrual hygiene products are not affordable in Zambia.
Menstrual hygiene management should be prioritised by the government as one way of making sure girls stay healthy and stay in school. According to a research by Women for Change , on average, girls miss school 4 days in a month, 13 days in a term, 39 days in a year.
It is this reason that the Reach One Child Foundation continues to support efforts to promote awareness on menstrual hygiene management and celebrates with the world on this day.
I encourage each one of us to take, promote and support efforts towards ending period poverty.