Listening to the radio last week I was both amazed and delighted that finally conversations were taking place on subjects that before now were taboo.
Who would believe that Joe Duffy would be taking about menopause! Of all subjects on National radio in broad daylight and not just for a half hour segment for the best part of the week !!! As many women of a certain age ‘come into land’ there are as many ‘taking off’ and it bought me back to how I became involved in Brighter Communities Worldwide in the first place.
At the tender age of 53 I decided to return to College to do a post grad. It just so happened that one of my course assignments was Brighter Communities Worldwide. In the introduction to the organisation the topic of Menstrual Hygiene was spoken about. I couldn’t believe it young girls didn’t have sanitary pads ! how come ! well what do they do! And they don’t know what is happening to their bodies ? how could this be in this day and age. Surely they can nip to the shop, peruse the various brands and types and make a purchase. I was astonished that girls remained at home save the embarrassment of bleeding in class with no products, in fact they stay at home for at least a week per month , leaving them so behind in their education there is little choice but to give up. As a woman myself I pondered that notion as I sat in my post grad class. The privilege I have of such an education that had not only provided stability and an income to my life but choice and an equality I enjoyed.
I thought about how when starting out as a young girl, most women never forget their first experience of menstruation , my own mother exclaimed ‘You’re a woman now’ while all I was worried about was hearing the jingle of the ice cream man down the road and would she ever hurry up and sort me out as I didn’t want to miss my ‘99’ with green sauce and sprinkles that I had been looking forward to all day at school !! But I was fortunate enough to have had talks and lessons on sexual health and education in my School and of course the odd embarrassingly awkward chat with my Mom on the subject so there was no fear or stigma. A stigma and fear which still exists without the benefit of knowledge. Needless to say I was back in school the next day.
The opportunity to have conversations with my peers, swop notes, borrow products when caught short . The ability to walk into any shop and purchase what I needed. Although it bought a smile to my face as I remembered bumping into a male college while in the pharmacy in my lunch break , who said ‘Hi, what ya got in your basket’ he proceeded to quickly stick in his nose into my basket ,only to discover several different boxes of various tampons …I’ve never seen a fella go so red in all my life ….still makes me laugh til this day.
So when I watched a slide show on how these young girls were being taught on the subject and shown how to make their own re-usable sanitary kits out of old T shirts and local sustainable materials I felt they deserved the same chance as everyone else in life. Why should being a woman stop them. Why should having periods hold women back. This week we celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day #MHD2021 throughout the world. In doing so we strive for equality for all girls and women to have the same chances wherever they are born. We are all born with the ability it’s our environment that makes the difference.
I got my ice cream that day by the way and it’s still my favourite!
When we support women we support the whole community. To find out more and support our women in our Communities please donate here.
Jane Beare, joined Brighter Communites Worldwide in 2016 as a volunteer, now Marketing Co Ordinator.