Today, I feel the need to unleash a rant. My inspiration? The avalanche of banter and senseless shame that has flooded Twitter from yesterday when Record breaking Hilda’s manager dared to reveal that she shattered records while on her period. Now, a woman fearlessly cooking for 100 straight hours during her periods should be all the motivation we need this year, right? But alas, some people just won’t let it be. Can you believe that many people have the audacity to claim this topic is unnecessary? Are we not allowed to discuss the most natural process known to womankind? Hearing and seeing so many people say that this was not necessary is crazy because a natural process is not necessary to speak about? Eh! It’s truly mind-boggling to see period stigma still thriving in this big 2023 we are in!
You don’t know the damage that this stigma can cause -it goes as far as death I kid you not. Wama don’t you remember the tragic story of the 12-year-old girl who lost her life at the hands of her 30-year-old brother or the girl who was driven to take her own life after being shamed by her own teacher? It’s heartbreaking. We must abolish stigma and irrational conceptions around menstruation for real and ASAP! I remember when I was younger even saying that you are on your period was like breaking a sacred taboo. My friends and I transformed into little secret agents, executing covert operations whenever we needed to change our pads at school. Passing a pad to a friend became a clandestine drug deal, as if we were evading the clutches of the police and the FBI. Only to hide what is a natural process that happens to almost half of the world’s population.
Ah, the delightful world we’ve grown up in, where periods are viewed as dirty, disgusting secrets that must never be spoken of openly. How did we end up here, you ask? Well, one culprit is the inadequate menstrual health education we receive. It’s high time we ramp up the efforts to teach comprehensive menstrual health and management , starting at a tender age as early as primary school.
You see, the lack of proper Menstrual education is one of the primary sources of period shame and stigma, not only in Uganda but in countless parts of the world. Where education does exist, it often begins later in a person’s life – sometimes even after girls have begun their first period. The result of not educating girls about menstruation before it starts means that their initial reaction is likely to involve fear, shame and embarrassment. Additionally, poor menstrual education means a lack of knowledge around what menstrual hygiene products are out there. As a result, many women, girls, and people do not have real control over the products they use, and do not have the ability to dispose of or clean these products in an appropriate manner, in line with personal, environmental, cultural, and other considerations. No woman, girl, or person who menstruates should start their period without knowing what is happening to their body, and without access to sanitary products.
I actually believe that and many reasons are why there is little or not enough research on women’s reproductive health and that’s why you see women silently endure the trials and tribulations of reproductive issues, only daring to raise their voices when the pain becomes unbearable. But, my friends, again, when we engage in open, healthy discussions about menstruation, we begin chipping away at the walls of stigma that confine us.
NOT SO FUN FACT: Language perpetuates period shame. Calling it things like “Kiiba” or “ensoonga” , “The reds” may seem harmless really but they reinforce the idea that periods are shameful and something to talk about in code. It’s time to reclaim the power of our words and embrace an open dialogue about menstruation.
Now, my friends, Let’s take a break from the ranting and move on to something truly exciting! I am delighted to share news about the UNDO the TABOO campaign, which has been coordinated by RAHU and their allies. This is not your typical campaign; it takes you on a journey of mental and menstrual wellbeing, with a focus on climate justice and the interconnectivity of these issues. The event will include an art session, an information centre, a wellness centre, and an exhibition tent with specific places for various implementing partners for attendees to visit, learn, and fully immerse themselves in the menstrual experience. You don’t want to miss out on this amazing opportunity, believe me!
Please be sure to be a part of this campaign and also to give on to the cause if you can! The hashtag on Twitter is #UndoTheTaboo for you to also add your voice on.
Kale bye naye don’t stop speaking about periods as it will help us to break free from the chains of silence and usher in an era where periods are greeted with understanding, support, and knowledge. Let’s all endeavour to educate, empower, and embrace the beauty of menstruation. Together, we can undo the taboo , one period at a time.What are your thoughts on menstruation and period stigma? Share with me your thoughts and you can also let me know what else you’d want me to rant (read talk) about in the comments or send a quick email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Take great care of yourselves, friends!