“Menstruation is not a problem; poor menstrual hygiene is”
This day is observed every 28th of May because the average cycle of a woman is 28days. Menstruation is a biological process; it is normal vaginal blood that occurs as part of a woman’s monthly cycle. The female system prepares your body for pregnancy and if it does not occur, then the womb shed its lining that is blood and tissue.
To some persons menstruation is not an inconvenient but to millions of others it’s a signal you are ready for marriage or childbearing, an opportunity to be pushed aside, embarrassing moments and loss of dignity. Although Cameroon has passed the era where girls and women were kept far away and not allow to touch anything during their periods, we have normalized the fact that when girls start menstruating then they are ready for marriage. Furthermore, the community has not given girls the opportunity to clean hygiene like providing clean toilets with constant water supply and soap. Moreover, parents even shy from discussing beforehand about period and what the girls expect to see as changes. This has led to many girls feeling inferior and engaging into acts which should not have been the case.
Ajong a young girl of 13 years of age started her period in form 1 and because she had never spoken with her parents about periods, this resulted to her asking help from friends. It was an embarrassing moment for her as she was almost the first to see her periods in class. Melanie and Linda saw their menses once, thereafter they stop flowing until a year and because they were not educated, they became so scared that they may be pregnant. Claudia sees menstruation as unhygienic that’s why whenever she mistakenly stains her pants, she throws it. These are all examples of girls we have worked with so far.
This day is meant to break barriers, taboos, end stigma, raise awareness of current challenges like the lack of knowledge or poor hygienic facilities and mobilise funds for positive actions with the theme of this year “Making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030”. Apart from educating girls on menstruation, it’s important we provide them proper facilities to cater for themselves so that people can menstruate without being cast out/missing out/fear/shame or treated as lesser beings putting them in vulnerable situations. This day also reminds us of period poverty as many cannot afford menstrual supplies need to manage their periods and dignity.
All of this is aim at building a world where no one is left behind because they menstruate.