Menstrual health: the essential universal passport

Menstrual health passport

Have you ever thought about something that could be a universal passport? A passport to education; a passport to employment; a passport to positive mental health, to self-esteem?

For me this is the sanitary pad!

Here in Kenya many girls and women do not have access to sanitary pads – they stay home from school on days they are menstruating and as a result do not finish school, do not engage in employment and suffer from low self-esteem and poor mental health. When girls reach puberty many do not even understand what changes are happening in their bodies, and suffer from fear and anxiety. In their families money is not available or prioritised to support the purchase of sanitary pads, and talking about menstruation is a taboo. So where do they go? What do they do?

They improvise, using old cloths, blankets, sometimes even leaves to make sanitary pads; they sit on cardboard to absorb the flow, they listen to myths about menstruation and often they are enticed into sex for money so that they can purchase pads. It results in school dropouts, teenage pregnancy and the stigma attached to menstruation contributes to mental health issues. On a macro scale it means that girls do not access the same opportunities as boys, and the whole of society suffers.

Brighter Communities Worldwide has been working on menstrual health since 2010. Since then our programme has evolved to include schools, communities, and health workers. We are committed to the belief that menstruation is not just “women’s business” but “community business”. It involves men, women, boys and girls and includes information, infrastructure, and reusable sanitary kits.

These sanitary kits contain underwear, soap, and reusable sanitary pads. Girls and women are taught how to add to the kit by making their own pads. Each kit lasts up to three years. The difference is incredible. Girls remain in school, women can engage in employment and girls and women are empowered through positive self-esteem and as a result have improved mental health. Society gains through the inclusion of girls and women and communities are stronger as a result.

On 28th May each year we celebrate International Menstrual Hygiene Day. This is a global day of action to break the taboos and end the stigma surrounding menstruation and to raise awareness about the challenges regarding access to menstrual products, education about menstruation and period-friendly sanitation facilities.

We believe that no girl or woman should be held back because they menstruate. To us it makes no sense. This is why we are looking for your support. Help us to provide girls and women with a “universal passport” this May. A starter sanitary kit costs $5 and will change a life forever! Donate here

#WeAreCommitted #MHDay2022 #ShiningALightOnInequality #ForABrighterWorld #20YearsBrighter