Breaking the period taboo

At first it may seem odd to have an international day celebrating periods - a blog by Chelsea Huggett, Equity and Inclusion Rights Advisor, WaterAid Australia.


28 May 2015 | AU

At first it may seem odd to have an international day celebrating periods. It usually makes people giggle. But when you dig a little deeper there is good reason why the world is talking periods. And fella’s, you have a role to play in this too.

Every month over two billion women in the world menstruate.

That makes it both a big deal and a not-so big deal. It’s a big deal, because a large proportion of these are adolescent girls. It’s a big deal because billions of women don’t even have access to a toilet. It’s a big deal, because no one really talks about it. But if a third of the world’s population goes through this natural cycle every month, why have we not broken the period taboo?

A study in Malawi found that 82% of girls didn’t know what their period was before they got it.  In India 86% of adolescent girls in a study reported they felt ‘completely unprepared’ for their first period and many reported missing days at school each month. Remember that scene in My Girl where Vada gets her period for the first time and screams because she has no idea what it is?

Even in the developed world there is stigma about periods. Providing menstrual health education to young women empowers them to reach their potential; to participate more in school and work; to have greater confidence and dignity.

So happy Menstrual Hygiene Day people. Today is about starting the conversation about why menstruation matters. If you’re looking for a way to get the office giggling, why not start by imagining if men had periods.  

Chelsea Huggett, WaterAid Australia Equity and Inclusion Rights Advisor

Netballers in PNG