“I am a son to a mother, brother to a sister, Husband to a wife, Father to a daughter, Women is my World”
The word menstruation is untouchable in some communities because of different beliefs attached to it. Some people think when you have your period you are dirty. There are popular myths and misconceptions about the female body and menstruation and some of these society views have crippling effects on girls and women and on the way the female body is perceived.
In some communities when women and girls are menstruating they are not allowed in the temple, prayer room or in the kitchen. In their house, they are not allowed to look at or touch their brothers and fathers and the fathers and brothers can’t eat the food that the women and girls touch during their period. After washing their dishes they can’t take them inside the house until they are dry.
Women and girls in some communities cannot buy sanitary pads because it’s considered a “private” thing and most girls try to hide it when it happens or some of them they do not have anything to wear to keep their monthly menstruation. Some girls stay home from school during their period. Girls miss school lessons. Some of them if they go to school they get bullied by boys and others if they mistakenly soil their clothes..
I am a man, a son to a mother, a brother to a sister, a husband to a wife to be, a father of a daughter to be, a friend to a woman. Women make my world and I feel crippled and get emotional when I see women being stigmatized because of their different biological make up which is natural when I see women and girls being victimized and segregated I think of my mother, my wife to be, and my sister. It’s high time we teach people that menstruation is natural and beautiful, no one should get bullied, discriminated and stigmatized at school, at work, in our communities and the society at large.
Some of the myths and conceptions around Menstruation
A girl’s period is natural and it’s a beautiful part of growing up to maybe have children one day. All healthy girls get it. It’s something that every girl gets, women and girls should feel ready when it starts and not feel shocked and worried about it. We need to teach and tell girls and women about it if someone teaches you that your period is natural, beautiful and something that everyone will experience, then you will feel better about it coming and you get prepared for it. It’s that simple. We should support girls and women to feel good about their bodies, get prepared to have the monthly periods. Let’s help them to access the sanitary supplies to keep them in schools so that they can be smart and be able to self-express themselves with courage, confidence and boldness. We improve quality of learning for girls by ensuring that they access sanitary supplies that maintains their hygiene. A girl needs to change her pad at most every 4 hours a day when she is in her period.
During the writing of this article I caught up with some young women and girls working with Young Urban Women’s Project by Action Aid Ghana in Partnership with NORSAAC and The Ark Foundation in Accra and Tamale Ghana and I managed to have a chat with them and this is what they had to say about Menstruation and Hygiene in view of the international Menstrual and Hygiene Day.
“My name is Rabiatu Tahiru I am 17 years old and I think Menstruation is a monthly flow or discharge of blood from ladies private parts therefore one should keep herself clean when menstruating by using sanitary pad such as propa, always and forever easy. This should made easily accessible for women and girls”
“I am Margaret and I am 23 years old, I would say menstruation it’s a hectic practice. It is not easy to menstruate, sometimes when getting to the time to menstruate severe headache abdominal pains and so on even how to get sanitary pads sometimes it’s difficult because of financial problem I can simply say menstruation it’s not an easy thing”
“I am Bridget Badzi I am 20 years old I work with Young Urban Women’s Project in Accra I see menstruation as not an easy thing even the abdominal pains is not an easy, sometimes we can’t afford the medicine for the pains and sanitary towel is not easy Parents should assist us in accessing the sanitary wear so that we walk around freely”
“My name is Hafsa Duko Ryanti and I am in SHS 3 in Tamale I am working with Young Urban Women Project implemented by Action Aid and Norsaac in Tamale I think men and other people out there, should change their negative perceptions about women and girls menstruation because its natural and God given”
People need to be educated about some negative cultural and traditional practices that undermines women. For women and girls out there when you see it happening just say “I have periods now, like normal girls, I too am among the knowing, I too can sit out for volleyball games and go to the nurses’ for aspirin and waddle along the halls with my pad I can walk freely at school, at work, in my community without anyone bullying or discriminating me because I am a woman. I am a human being it’s natural and it feels good
The Day of the African Child is commemorated every year on 16 June by Member States of the African Union (AU), and its Partners (in accordance with Resolution CM/Res.1290 (XL). This occasion is firstly a commemoration to recall the 1976 uprising s in Soweto, when a protest by school children in South Africa against apartheid –inspired education resulted in the public killing of these unarmed young protesters by police officials. The DAC further presents an opportunity to focus on the work of all actors committed to the rights of children on the continent, to consolidate their efforts in addressing the obstacles for realizing these rights. The DAC also provides an occasion for Governments, International Institutions and Communities to renew their on-going commitments towards improving the plight of children by organizing activities aimed at including them.
Every year ,a theme is identified by the Committee and adopted by the Executive Council. During its 23rd Ordinary Session in April 2014,the Committee identified and adopted the theme for the Day of the African Child (DAC ) 2015 :- “25 Years after the Adoption of the African Children’s Charter: Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa” which will be commemorated by bringing together those affected by and working to end child marriage such as community leaders, traditional, religious leaders, girls affected by child marriage and key stakeholders.