It’s that time of the month again - well, actually it’s that time of the year. On Saturday 28th May it’s Menstrual Hygiene Day, and to mark it we've reimagined five vintage posters to highlight period myths and taboos that women and girls still face today. From girls we work with who are told that if they cook with salt on their period they'll make their teeth fall out, to women in the UK who still can't talk about taking sick leave because of their period, we want to bust these myths across the world.
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Why we're busting period myths
We know that periods are a barrier to girls' education when they don't have access to sanitary towels, toilets or menstrual hygiene education. That's why we're working to break taboos by working with local communities in countries like Rwanda and Malawi, to set up girls' clubs and period safe spaces in schools. Here, girls can discuss the issues that impact them and their bodies in confidence.
Period safe spaces for girls
Bernadine, 35, is a maths teacher at the Kibaga Primary School in Rwanda. But she also helps to run the safe space in her school. This is a place away from the main school area where girls can get sanitary pads, clean water, fresh uniforms and reproductive health advice. It’s a one-stop-shop for girls to find out everything they need to know about their bodies, sex and contraception.
Many girls missed school before we got this space. Especially the poorest girls, if they got their periods, they quit school and went home because there were no supplies for them to use. Before the room was built the girls didn’t speak about periods, today they come to us and are comfortable telling us if they have a problem.
Bernadine told us that the boys used to laugh if the girls stained their clothes on their period. But today, all the young people are clued up and know what periods are, and the boys no longer tease the girls in their class when they have their period.
"Periods are not a secret any more"
Period taboos exist across the world. Our recent YouGov poll showed that here in the UK, two thirds of women who’ve taken sick leave because of their period were too embarrassed to give the real reason that they couldn’t go to work.1
We need to start having more open and frank conversations around periods - after all, they're a natural process that are a part of nearly every girl's and woman's life.
Bernadine says that by discussing periods and menstrual hygiene, things have changed for the better in her school.
Today the girls feel comfortable. They are free. Periods are not a secret, it happens to all girls at a certain age.
Please share this blog to help break the silence around periods, and stop them from being a taboo that holds girls back.
1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1096 females. Fieldwork was undertaken between 9th - 10th May 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 16+).