10 Years Later: Period Friendly World

Ministerial Greetings. I am the Minister of Menstruation.

And my agenda? To change the world, one period at a time. I haven’t always been the Minister, though. Eighteen years ago, at the tender age of 10, I got my first period, and – shocker – there was no handbook, no guidance, just a confusing mess and a whole lot of shame. That’s when I knew the system was broken. Why should something so natural feel so isolating? Fast forward to today, and I’m a passionate menstrual health activist fueled by that initial frustration and a burning desire to make a difference. It’s been a whirlwind of education, advocacy, and yes, even a few spilled cups of tea (periods can be messy!). But hey, at least we’re talking about it now, right?

This year’s theme, “Period Friendly World,” truly gets me fired up. I don’t just dream of a world where menstrual products are readily available and affordable—that’s the bare minimum. I envision a world where periods are a non-issue, seamlessly integrated into daily life.

Period Poverty: A Global Challenge

Let’s discuss a critical piece to building a period-friendly world: ending period poverty. Imagine a world where every person who menstruates, regardless of background or income, has access to safe and sanitary menstrual products. Sadly, that’s not our reality yet. Globally, millions lack access to these basic necessities. This is particularly true in low-income communities and developing countries. 

They’re forced to resort to unsafe alternatives like rags, leaves, or even cardboard, putting their health at risk of infections and UTIs.

The impact of period poverty is devastating. Girls miss school, jeopardizing their education. Women are forced to stay home from work, limiting their economic opportunities. Dignity and confidence are eroded when you can’t manage your period hygienically. This is why breaking the silence is crucial. By openly discussing periods, we can chip away at the stigma that fuels period poverty. When periods are seen as normal, not shameful, access to menstrual products becomes a basic right, not a luxury.

Imagine this:

  • Schools: No more scrambling for a tampon in the dusty corners of a neglected bathroom. Period products are as freely available as toilet paper, alongside educational materials that normalize menstruation. Sex education goes beyond biology, addressing the emotional and social aspects of periods, creating a space for open discussion, and dismantling the shame often instilled in young minds.
  • Workplaces: Period-friendly policies are commonplace. Access to clean restrooms with dedicated disposal units is standard – no more awkward hiding in the stall or wondering if that metallic scent is just you! Employers even offer flexible work arrangements for those experiencing cramps, recognizing that sometimes Mother Nature just needs a little extra TLC.
  • Public spaces: We see period products in vending machines alongside snacks and drinks. Public washrooms are well-equipped with disposal bins and hygiene wipes. Period leaks? No biggie, because accidents happen, and we’ve got each other’s backs (and, um, bottoms).

Breaking the Silence, Period.

Let’s be honest, folks, for far too long, periods have been shrouded in secrecy and shame. We’ve whispered in hushed tones, hidden pads in our sleeves, and felt like we were harboring some dark secret. But guess what? Over 50% of the population menstruate! It’s time we start talking openly and honestly.

What You Can Do:

  • Spread the Word: Talk to your friends, family, colleagues—anyone who listens. Share the resources available on the Menstrual Hygiene Day website.  
  • Challenge the Stigma: See a period joke in a movie? Call it out. Did you hear someone using “on the rag” as an insult? Educate them. Together, we can rewrite the narrative.
  • Support Period-Friendly Initiatives: Donate to organizations like Qrate that provide menstrual hygiene products and education to those in need. Advocate for period-friendly policies in your workplace or school.
  • Embrace Period-Positive Media: Let’s celebrate the creators who are normalizing periods! Support movies, TV shows, and books that portray periods realistically, without shame or sensationalism.
  • Lead by Example: Have open conversations with your kids (regardless of gender) about periods. If you get cramps and need to take a break, don’t apologize – explain it as managing your health, just like taking a pain reliever for a headache.

Let’s make this 10th anniversary a turning point. Let’s build a period-friendly world where everyone can manage their periods with dignity and confidence.

Onwards and upwards, bleeders!

Your Minister of Menstruation

P.S. Remember, periods are a natural part of life. Embrace them, celebrate them (okay, maybe not the cramps), and most importantly, don’t let them hold you back!

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We are so grateful for Candice Chirwa and her leadership!

Find more from her on Insta @candice_chirwa

www.candicechirwa.co.za/