I began my period when I was fourteen years old. Being born in the United States there was no shame or stigma in this. I have an older sister and mother who had sanitary products for me to use and helped answer any questions. They also taught me the most important piece of knowledge that a young period haver needs to know, soap and cold water clean up bloodstains.
While talking about periods with boys and men still has some embarrassment, and sometimes shame in some families in the United States, there are plenty of resources. Women and girls do not miss school from their periods just because there is blood. For some, pain and other complications cause time lost in school or work, but not the fact that the bleeding is occurring.
This freedom and openness are not the same all around the world. And this fact has garnered a lot of attention. In 2018 the movie Period End of Sentence won the Oscar for Best Documentary (Short Subject.) This movie is about a group of women in India who learn how to operate a low-cost biodegradable pad making machine and how this affects their lives and breaks down cultural taboos.
Yesterday CNN just named Frewini Mebrahtu as their 2019 CNN Hero of the year. Mebrahtu is working in Ethiopia with Dignity Period designing menstrual pads for girls there and working to keep them in school. She is also working to change the social stigma that surrounds menstruation in Ethiopia.
Mebrahtu designed and patented, in 2005, the design that Dignity Period uses to distribute menstrual pads. She had established her own factory Mariam Seba Sanitary Products Factory prior to meeting Dignity Period’s founders. They brought in the resources to distribute her pads nationwide.
If you would like to donate to Dignity Period click here, all donations up to $50,000 will be matched through January 2nd. If you would like to help with periods and period stigma in the United States consider when you are donating to food drives or clothing drives this holiday season consider donating menstrual products. They are not cheap and a person in need would be grateful.