When I had my menstruation as an adolescent, I thought I had injured myself, thereby applying Gentian Violet(GV) paint and later tincture of iodine to stop the blood flow which never did.
Eventually, I went under the shower effortlessly to wash the flow but it didn't cease until my auntie saw the mixture of fluids competing for space in the drainage and came over to unpack my confusion and my dilemma.
In excitement, she laughed and told me that I have entered womanhood. Helping to clean me, she demonstrated how to put on the sanitary pad, shared lessons on menstrual hygiene practices with the do's and don'ts of that phase of my life.
I must admit I felt uncomfortable with the sanitary pad but later I got used to. Despite being taught in school and my mother walking me through menstrual cycle and female reproductive studies during my pre-adolescent stage,I was confused when I saw my first flow due the basic reason of denial if indeed I was menstruating.
Menstruation is the technical term for getting your period. About once a month, females who have gone through puberty will experience menstrual bleeding.
Years down the line, I shared my menstrual journey with some 750 girls in the Ahanta West District of the Western Region during the maiden edition of the Annual Yinson Girls Education Programme to mark 2023 World Menstural Hygiene Day.
This personal share sought to demystify the myths surrounding menstruation and to make it practicable to enable these girls to relate to my journey and learn that menstruation is a normal fact of life.Oh yes! But with the right support. Management of menstruation can present substantial challenges to girls especially in low-income settings so by empowering these adolescents with necessary information regarding menstruation and menstrual hygiene they are able to manage themselves during their periods.
The girls were walked through understanding their monthly cycle, the use and management of sanitary pads and adaptation of re-useable pads and healthy lifestyles.
Yinson Production, West Africawere provided them with sanitary supply. The Yinson Education Programme is a collaboration between Ahanta West Directorate of Education aimed at improving education on Menstrual Hygiene and promotion of STEM for females in oil host communities.
Menstrual hygiene is essential to girls and women’s health and well-being. Unfortunately, millions of girls and women worldwide lack access to proper menstrual hygiene facilities and products due to the taxes imposedon the sanitary towels. A phenomenon which sees a lot of girls/young women using other unconventional means and productsin managing their periods.
Empowering girls and women with accurate information about menstruation and menstrual hygiene is crucial in breaking stigmas and taboos surrounding the subject. Menstrual Education promotes a healthy attitude towards menstruation and enables girls and women to manage their periods with dignity and confidence.
World Menstrual Hygiene Day is a global event observed annually on May 28th to raise awareness about the importance of menstrual hygiene and to break the silence and stigma surrounding menstruation.
This year a lot of stakeholders and NGO’sin Ghana advocated for the removal of heavily imposed taxes on sanitary products in the country currently. This will enable us achieve the overarching goal to build a world where no one is held back because they menstruate by 2030 and attaining the 2023 Menstrual Hygiene Day theme “making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030 can be”.
The writer, Sekyiwa Darko, is a Communications Consultant and Strategist with a career history in the Extractive industry in Ghana, South Africa and Tanzania.
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