A report by Bibi van der Zee and Katherine Purvis For the Guardian looks at recent research on menstruation, and the impacts of menstrual hygiene on the lives of young girls and women in low-income countries. Menstrual cups are playing an important role in improving the options available.
The research, and the Guardian story, highlights the role of shame and taboos, and the challenges that menstruation brings to many women and girls in terms of access to schooling and also their day-to-day experiences. One study in Kenya found that one in ten 15 year olds have sex with men in order to get hold of money for sanitary pads.
The story had many grim observations. In some cultures, for example, the onset of menstruation is taken as a sign of sexual activity, and one girl describes being beaten by her father for her assumed promiscuity when he discovered her washing her period-stained underwear.
But the article also reports on the new generation of researchers and activists. As the Guardian reports, the importance of menstruation and menstrual hygiene has come out of the shadows over the last decade or so – in large part because of the work of activists and NGOs. Menstrual cups are a significant part of this, as one of several sustainable, affordable options offered to women and girls by a range of NGOs, activists and companies. For example the report describes a program by Camilla Wirseen, The Cup (www.thecup.org).
The stigma of menstruation expresses and compounds the marginalization of women. The Guardian report argues that the recent rise of interest in menstrual hygiene has come from listening to marginalized women and girls.
Read the full article, including links to campaigns, here: