Why we shouldn’t be ashamed of being #PeriodProud
Period Day (also known as Menstrual Hygiene Day) happens every year on 28 May. This year, we want people to talk loud and proud about periods: the myths, the names, the good, the bad and the ugly experiences.
Why? Because every day, approximately 288 million people are on their period. Often it’s a lonely and for many, a shameful experience. That’s a lot of women and girls going through a natural, normal process in silence.
It’s understandable to be private about periods – not everyone wants to share what’s happening or what they’re feeling. But when menstruation is viewed with superstition or stigma, it helps myths and anxieties to spread. Crucially, it stops women and girls speaking out to get the information, support or facilities they need.
Here in the UK, 1 in 8 women didn’t know about periods until they started menstruating. And a worrying number believe myths like people shouldn’t exercise, and can’t get pregnant while on their period. About a third of women would not feel comfortable talking about their menstrual cycle at all – with anyone. The misconceptions and ‘rules’ around periods are world-wide.
In Nepal, it's thought that people on their period shouldn't touch animals; menstruating Malagasy women (in Madagascar) are told not to use the front door; and in Nigeria it can even be taboo to hold your baby at that time of the month. But you know what they say about rules...
It might not be obvious at first why a water charity would focus on periods, but menstrual hygiene is actually a key part of WaterAid’s global strategy.
Our mission is to reach everyone, everywhere with water, toilets and hygiene. Clean water to wash reusable period cloths and pads and to stay clean. A toilet that is private, with somewhere to dispose of sanitary products. Period clubs in schools and people trained in hygiene education.
That’s why WaterAid’s work around menstruation covers three areas – to inform, facilitate and supply.
- Inform: providing practical information and safe spaces where people can speak openly about periods.
- Facilitate: campaigning for and providing decent toilets and washing facilities.
- Supply: promoting the supply, use and disposal of safe, affordable and sustainable period products.
So you can see how being period proud is mission-critical for WaterAid. Period shame and embarrassment stops women and girls’ needs being met. And talking about menstruation – in the UK and around the world – is the first step.
I'm not ashamed to be #PeriodProud. I've seen the transformative effect that conversations can have on decision-makers, teachers, parents and young girls. So I'm going to be speaking up about menstruation this Period Day. If it changes things for just one of those 288 million people on their period, it'll be worth it.
Join the #PeriodProud campaign by starting a conversation of your own.