Chaste Inegbedion: How Do We Create a Society That Doesn’t Normalise Period Shaming?

Chaste Inegbedion: How Do We Create a Society That Doesn’t Normalise Period Shaming?
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This year marks the 10th anniversary of Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD), a decade-long journey of campaigning and advocacy aimed at transforming how the world perceives menstruation. Over the past ten years, significant strides have been made in breaking down the stigma and taboos surrounding menstruation, but the mission is far from complete.

“Anything you can do, I can do bleeding.” This powerful slogan, popularised by Senator Gloria Orwoba’s campaign in Kenya, encapsulates the spirit of the movement. Last year, Senator Orwoba made headlines when she was expelled from a parliamentary session for attending with a visible blood stain on her trousers, a bold statement against period shaming. Despite the criticism, her actions highlighted the daily challenges faced by millions of women and girls who menstruate. Menstrual Hygiene Day unites non-profits, governments, the private sector, and individuals in a shared mission: to create a #PeriodFriendlyWorld. This vision includes eradicating the stigma and taboos surrounding menstruation and ensuring access to quality menstrual products, education, and facilities for all.

Addressing the Challenges

Every month, over two billion people menstruate worldwide. Despite being a natural and healthy process, menstruation often disrupts the lives of millions due to a lack of access to menstrual products, sanitation, and hygiene facilities. Additionally, many women and girls lack the education and awareness necessary to manage their menstrual health effectively.

Today’s workforce, especially millennials, prioritises corporate values that align with their personal beliefs. Companies that implement progressive policies, such as menstrual leave, not only support their employees but also retain top talent. The cost of recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training new employees is high, and retaining employees through supportive policies can save companies substantial amounts of money.

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For women suffering from severe menstrual pain caused by conditions like endometriosis, productivity at work can be significantly hindered. Progressive menstrual policies that acknowledge and support these challenges can improve employee satisfaction and reduce turnover. Employers who demonstrate empathy towards menstrual disorders create a more inclusive and supportive work environment, fostering loyalty and better retention in the long run.

Menstruation is a normal, natural biological process, but at the same time, it is also framed as a process that should be kept private or secret, particularly from boys and men. I am a man, and they call me Mr. Padman, inspired by the Menstruation Man from India. A lot of men feel uncomfortable buying menstrual supplies. Initially, I was no different, trying to camouflage tampons and pads with groceries to avoid embarrassment. Over time, as I began buying menstrual products for Sanicle, wrote the period passport book and created the period genie game, the discomfort faded.

Why do men feel uncomfortable saying menstruation? That awkward and secrecy instilled a sense of taboo around the topic.

The Future

In looking towards the future, creating a world where menstruation is not considered shameful is important. This requires ongoing education, advocacy, and the implementation of inclusive policies. We can empower individuals to manage their menstrual health with dignity and respect by fostering a supportive environment. Advances in technology and healthcare offer promising prospects. Innovations in menstrual products, increased awareness, and supportive workplace policies are all steps toward a more period-friendly world. However, addressing menstrual health goes beyond medical solutions; it requires societal change.

The 10th anniversary of Menstrual Hygiene Day symbolises a decade of progress, yet it also serves as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done. The journey towards a #PeriodFriendlyWorld continues, driven by the collective efforts of individuals, organisations, and governments. As we strive to address menstrual health, we must remember that the goal is not just to tackle the physical aspects but to create a society where menstruation is normalised and everyone has the resources and support they need. Together, we can build a future where the period is no longer considered a barrier but a natural part of life.

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Feature Image by Sora Shimazaki for Pexels

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