Breaking the Menstrual Hygiene Silence




COO's Unite! SHE COO, Global CeCe Camacho with SHE COO, Rwanda Julian Kayibanda.

I traveled to Rwanda to visit my SHE colleagues back in August and came back optimistic and inspired.  One afternoon as all our staff were walking to lunch (we were looking for the Africa Bagel Company), I couldn’t help but notice this public service sign on the side of the road.  


It was of a family gathered together.  The caption of the sign read: “Talk to your children about sex, it could save their lives.”  The sign was sponsored by the Imbuto Foundation, an organization founded by Rwandan’s First Lady, Jennette Kagame.  I must admit that I was intrigued.  Investigating their website I learned more about the impetus behind this sign.  After perusing their various health, youth, and education programs I discovered it came out of a project to support adolescent sexual reproductive health and rights. The project works in partnerships with schools and health centers as “agents of change” to increase health knowledge and impact behaviors.

SHE is an advocate of girl’s education as well as a proponent of talking with girls about their sexual and reproductive health and how menstruation is natural process of the reproductive cycle. However, around the world, talking about menstruation remains taboo and having open conversations is often difficult. Because of this deafening silence, menstrual hygiene management is a challenge for girls and women.  Girls and women lack access to affordable pads, proper sanitation facilities and the reproductive and sexual health information to understand why they are menstruating and how to manage it. Ultimately, girls and women are denied their rights to health, education and gender equity, sanitation and dignity.

At SHE we are breaking the silence. A greater awareness of menstrual hygiene demands that both men and women—fathers and mothers as well as teachers alike— talk with their daughters and students. SHE is working in partnership with many stakeholders at both the community, national and global level to ensure this. While I was visiting, Julian, SHE’s COO in Rwanda, and I met with the Ministry of Education’s School Health Plan Committee to advocate for the inclusion of menstrual hygiene education in the schools and training for teachers.  SHE was met with support, enthusiasm and partnership opportunities.  

SHE is also a co-publisher of the resource book Menstrual Hygiene Matters  which is now available on the WaterAid website. This valuable tool for practitioners includes nine modules and toolkits covering key aspects of menstrual hygiene for different settings such as communities, schools and emergencies.

At SHE we are also innovating.  Talking about menstrual hygiene also needs to be coupled with an effective and affordable menstrual product that girls like. SHE is going from small to industrial-scale production of our SHE LaunchPads. We will be producing 300,000 SHE LaunchPads for 3,000 Rwandan school girls attending 10 schools in the Kayonza district in the next couple of months.

Clearly, the time in Rwanda is ripe for supporting girl’s menstrual hygiene. We believe the SHE LaunchPad will create economic opportunities in Rwandan communities as well as enhance girls’ educational opportunities, impact health while restoring dignity.  I must admit I couldn’t help but envision a SHE public service sign of a girl gathered with her mother and father.  The caption of the sign would read: “Break the menstrual silence and talk with your daughter, it could keep her in school.”  

Join us now in making this happen - support our SHE28 campaign and break the silence. Period. 

Optimistic and Inspired,

CeCe 

4 comments:

merlen hogg said...

I loved reading this piece! Well written!


Merlen Hogg
Tormod Helleland

andres roy said...

Usually I do not read article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, quite nice article.


Andres
Visalus

david james said...

However, around the world, talking about menstruation remains taboo and having open conversations is often difficult. Because of this deafening silence, menstrual hygiene management is a challenge for girls and women. Girls and women lack access to affordable pads, proper sanitation facilities and the reproductive and sexual health information to understand why they are menstruating and how to manage it. Body Mint

Kim Gibson said...

Breaking the silence was very much needed. Hats off to the female.Great initiative towards Female Hygiene.