• While 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 one of the leading causes of reproductive tract infections in women globally.
• A 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.
• Schoolgirls 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 and that it can cause diseases like cancer if it’s mixed in with other trash.
• 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.
• In Kenya, the ability to afford menstrual pads is considered a luxury for women. For the 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.
• 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', says Yoshikazu Ono, the son of the famed Jiro Ono told the Wall Street Journal in 2011.
However, women are fighting back, starting their own restaurants and ending this damaging myth.
We hope that learning more about the world around us as it relates to periods, will help you better understand just how important it is to help other young girls.
Those of us in the United States have readily accessible resources where other young girls do not. Let's help spread the word! Girls supporting girls!
Menstruation myths in developing worlds can restrict girls from participating in society.
Research by UNESCO reveals that 1 in 10 girls in Africa miss school during their periods which leads to higher drop out rates.
Similar patterns occur in other countries because schools lack the sanitation facilities needed to change their sanitary products.
88% of girls and women around the world don't have access to sanitary products.
Some tribes refuse to allow menstruating women and girls to drink milk from cows in case they contaminate the herd. Others don't allow women to plant groundnuts when on their period as they believe it will result in a poor crop yield.
If other people see a menstrual cloth then the owner of the cloth will become cursed.
Women and girls are not allowed to enter the kitchen or cook food during their period as some believe it will cause food to go bad or rot.
Old menstrual cloths must be buried or evil spirits will be attracted to them. Menstruating women and girls cannot touch food, cooking utensils or go into the kitchen gardens or they will spoil the food.
The rural lgbo tribe believe that if a menstrual cloth is burned it will cause the owner's skin to become itchy, change color and can cause cancer.
Some groups believe that a used sanitary towel can be used to make a person sterile.
Women on their period cannot bathe near any shared utensils as menstrual blood can kill family members.
Chart Information Courtesy of Femme International
Let's fight the stigma against menstruation together!