Did You Know?
• While these taboos exist globally, they are especially prominent and relevant in developing countries. In East Africa, menstruation is one of the biggest reasons why adolescent girls miss school.
• Poor menstrual management is also the leading cause of reproductive tract infections in women globally.
• Our 2014 study in Nairobi’s Mathare Valley slum found that over 75% of girls had little idea what menstruation was before they got their first period – causing them to feel scared, confused and embarrassed.
• In Kenya, girls will miss an average of 4 days of school each month – adding up to about 20% of the school year. When girls don’t have access to sanitary pads, they will often choose to leave school early, or stay home altogether.
• Bolivia School girls in Bolivia can often be found carrying around used menstrual pads in their backpacks all day because they are told that menstrual blood is so dangerous it can cause diseases like cancer if it’s mixed in with other trash.
• Afghanistan During menstruation, women in Afghanistan avoid washing their vaginas because they are told it can lead to infertility. Compounding the issue is the lack of access to clean pads. A single menstrual pad costs $4 USD in Afghanistan. Sixty-two percent of Afghani schoolgirls report using strips of torn clothing, and many hold off on washing them until nightfall to keep it a secret
• Kenya The ability to afford menstrual pads is a luxury for women all over the world, and for women in Kenya, this luxury is often at the behest of a male superior, like their husband or father. Because of this, many women resort to using leaves and sticks to absorb the blood. Even then, girls in Kenya miss an average of 4.9 days of school a month because of their period.
• Japan A long-standing tradition in Japan dictates that women cannot be sushi chefs because their sense of taste is thrown off by menstruation. “To be a professional means to have a steady taste in your food, but because of the menstrual cycle women have an imbalance in their taste, and that’s why women can’t be sushi chefs,” Yoshikazu Ono, the son of the famed Jiro Ono (of Jiro Dreams of Sushi) told the Wall Street Journal in 2011. However, women are fighting back, starting their own restaurants and ending this damaging myth.
Let's fight the stigma against menstruation together.