I get a lot of questions about making menstrual hygiene kits in the church basement. Most of them are reasonable questions and are expected. The question I still have a hard time wrapping my head around goes something like this, “You send these to Africa, right?” So much goes through my head when someone asks this question (some of it not kind). I wish I could play Trevor Noah‘s UNICEF fly up for them. I try to explain gently that lack of access to menstrual hygiene products can affect women all over the world, not just the developing world, but in places that we consider developed. Some of the kits go overseas and some stay in the USA. Yes, this effects our friends and neighbors HERE too. The Days for Girls September Newsletter (you can subscribe) included a link about girls in the USA who miss school because they are without menstrual products.
Yes, some of the kits do go to countries in Africa, AND some of the kits are made in Africa which helps local women even more than simply distributing kits made in other places. Days for Girls does have a Center in Uganda that helps support enterprises. More about centers and enterprises.
European countries have noticed that students are missing school because of lack of menstrual hygiene products. The latest Days for Girls newsletter shared an article about Scotland’s decision to make pads and tampons free to all students.
Surprisingly, the royal wedding raised awareness about menstruation taboos in India that keep women from getting the products they need. Myna Mahila Foundation is one of seven charities chosen to benefit from donations marking the wedding of Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle. Megan wrote an article in Time Magazine about her work with this particular charity. Myna Mahila foundation explains that the problem with getting menstrual hygiene products is not availability but accessibility. These products are not accessible because there is stigma and shame about buying them.
While I’m on the subject of cultural practices, this article from CNN explains that in Nepal women are dying in menstrual huts because of Chhaupadi, “a common practice in the west of the country in which women, considered unclean during menstruation, are sequestered for the extent of their periods.” If you google ‘Nepal menstrual hut deaths’ there is a long list of articles on the subject, all of them heart breaking.
In some places in our world, female genital cutting/mutilation customs are still practiced for girls entering puberty. My hope and prayer is that awareness, education, and healthy practices will one day ensure that every girl is safe, healthy, and happy.
Check out the Days for Girls Blog for more up-dates about what is happening all over the world.