Today is National Period Day. It is a celebration and a reminder that we should not be ashamed of our power. It is emblematic of our strength; we maneuver the world despite the normalcy of bleeding for days. Our periods are natural and it is part of the cycle of creating life.
I also recognize that women still face social stigmas, which can be felt more acutely by young women who are still coming to understand their bodies. As a holistic care practitioner, I am mindful of the discomfort that comes with a heavy flow and how this experience affects women and young girls. That’s why I work with Days for Girls, a nonprofit that aims to increase access to menstrual care and education by developing global partnerships, cultivating social enterprises, mobilizing volunteers, and innovating sustainable solutions that shatter stigmas and limitations for women and girls.
I provide eco-conscious menstrual care kits so they can continue to live their lives during their cycles. The absorbent liners unfold to look like a washcloth, which allows women to wash and dry them outside in the sun without causing embarrassment. They use little water, dry quickly, and save money. The kits last a little over three years with proper care. The bright colors camouflage staining. All of these design choices add up to a lasting, easy-to-care-for solution.
For western nations, it may be challenging to comprehend the severity of social stigma and humiliation associated with menstrual cycles. After all, we are a walk or a short drive away from stores with aisles dedicated solely for feminine products. We even have highly specialized products like monthly box subscriptions timed to women’s personalized cycles and an array of eco-conscious products like Thinx and DfG PODs. We have the vocabulary for this experience, and it is part of the social norm.
That isn’t the case for girls and young women in Haiti. Ones who come from deeply underserved areas are more susceptible to infections due to lack of access to sanitary products and clean toilets. Taboos surrounding menstruation and collective silence on this issue limit the abilities of young women and girls to participate in daily routines, ranging from performing errands and attending school.
The cumulative impact of such absence adversely affects self-esteem, credibility, and social status. Some cases are to the extent of dropping out of school, pushing them to be more vulnerable to early marriage or violence. Providing a platform for safe dialogue means learning about the natural evolution of bodies, increasing awareness on hygiene management, and ultimately better health and wellness. Young women rebuild their confidence by continuing their lives without feeling inhibited by menstrual cycle.
Beyond its social and financial advantages, my work has a rippling positive impact on the environment. In Haiti, the means for disposing non biodegradable and environmentally hazardous tampons and pads are limited, often resorting to digging dirt from the ground to bury refuse. When the rainy season comes, raw sewage contaminates the canals and flooding can cause the soil to regurgitate what lies beneath. By opting for eco-friendly and reusable options, Peggy is also making strides at addressing a global waste problem.
Want to join me in making a difference? Donate to Days For Girls. All donations are 100% tax deductible and help empower girls, women and communities around the globe. Learn more here.