You’re probably reading this because you already know that period education needs to change. But if you needed any further convincing, brace yourself for some truly shocking statistics.
Girls and women across the globe are having to sacrifice their education, their careers and even their health because of the myths and misconceptions around menstruation.
betty’s research shows that anxiety about periods tops the charts for girls in the UK, who feel scared of the unknown and as though they can’t ask “silly” questions. Sadly, this seems to be as good as it gets.
According to Project Humanity, an international volunteer organisation dedicated to identifying and supporting women’s empowerment projects in rural Africa, schoolgirls in Kenya miss, on average, almost a week of school every single month owing to menstruation.
That’s more than 20 per cent of their school year – all because of periods.
The organisation found that sanitary products are costly and therefore deemed a luxury. Also, most men control the family finances and women feel ashamed to ask for money to buy supplies.
As a result, they are resorting to replacements such as rags, leaves, newspapers and sticks to absorb the blood – uncomfortable and sometimes unsafe methods that can lead to serious health issues.
The miseducation, financial implications and health dangers don’t stop there, though.
Recent studies have found that a huge 70 per cent of all reproductive diseases in India are caused by poor menstrual hygiene.
In Afghanistan, women avoid washing their vaginas because they are told it can lead to infertility. The cost of sanitary products is hugely inflated too, with a single pad coming in at $4.
Again, this leads to schoolgirls using old rags and strips of torn clothing to try and absorb their flow.
Areas in South America are affected, too. The Unicef “WASH in Schools” programme found that girls in Bolivia expressed “constant feelings of fear and shame during menstruation”.
They were also found to be carrying their used pads around in their school bags because of the common myth that menstrual blood is so toxic that it causes cancer if it is mixed with rubbish.
If this has left you incredulous, we agree. Which is why betty wants to shatter the stigma, educate children and fill the next generation with women who feel empowered by their periods.
For more information and to get involved, visit bettyforschools.co.uk