Twenty years ago, topics such as Menstrual Cycles, Period or Sanitary Napkins would never be discussed as openly as it is now and most certainly not by many men. Back then, the cringe factor would be in high gear if a husband was asked to pick up a box tampons at the local store for his wife/daughter and instant refusal would surely be the response.
Now fast forward to this year, 2018, and what do we see, international recognition of period poverty in poverty stricken communities around the world in the media and part of discussions world-wide. Who are the heroes of these stories? Surprisingly–men.
I’ve recently been asked to help bring awareness to a serious issue plaguing countries like Uganda, in particular Mulatsi, Uganda, an awareness about something that most westerners seldom worry about–period poverty. With all the products at hand for most of us, the idea of women without something that should be a necessity of life is unbelievable, but very real. Where we have a platitude of products to deal with life’s unavoidable, in Mulatsi, women have next to nothing except old rags that need to be washed daily and reused regularly. To have a monthly period is often considered shameful. Why? What is shameful is how these women are being forced to endure such horrific conditions and backwards way of thinking. They have found a solution, but seriously… We’re talking about things that were done in the 19th century and earlier still being done in Uganda–women/girls using rags instead of sanitary napkins. I remember my grandmother telling me how she had to use rags and wash them often to keep clean… my grandmother! Even she eventually received the benefits of modern inventions by way of the sanitary belt, and that was during the late 1800s, early 1900s. Uganda isn’t there yet.
How sad that this is happening. To even acknowledge that a country of today, surrounded by all the latest and greatest is still behind over 100 years in feminine hygiene. This thought is staggering. I can’t imagine living like that. Bad enough that in the day diapers were cloth and had to be washed and hung on the clothes line to dry, but rags for menstruating? It astonishes me that in a world full of so much high technology and science, there are still places with people who live in poverty, poverty of any kind, let alone period poverty. Why is this?
The added fact that women are forced to live in shame because of a natural human necessity, is unfathomable, yet it is happening in many countries like Uganda. And, the rest of us allow it. Why? Is this a purposeful neglect or an issue born of ignorance and denial? I wish I had the answers. All I can think of is that this shouldn’t be happening when we are a race now thinking about traveling and colonizing Mars. Somewhere along the way to evolving into who we are today, we missed the boat about being humane. Shouldn’t all of the human race be privy to the comforts and ease that the apparently selected few possess easily in countries “better off?” You do realize that many humans treat their horse better than how they treat women. Isn’t that a thought to cringe at. The horse is after all, a necessary component to some people’s survival either because of work or transportation. So where does that leave women and girls in Uganda. Don’t they serve a higher purpose than a horse? Even the horse is given whatever it needs to carry on.
We spend millions of dollars on weapons to kill each other, yet no money on helping women world-wide (even the third-world countries) manage their monthly menstruation which, if you have a basic working knowledge of why women menstruate, is a step in women reproducing/or not. If women don’t menstruate, the reproduction cycle can’t prepare the body for babies. A simplified explanation, I know, but basically it’s something all females of the human race go through from puberty to the age of menopause. It’s a necessary part of human continuity. So why isn’t it something treated with the respect it deserves, a treatment for all the female population of this world to receive?
How much does it cost to make a sanitary napkin, or a tampon for that matter? More than it costs to make a gun? How about a bullet?
So where does men come into play? Please read the article and see how a group of compassionate humans are trying to make a difference.