Today, May 28th is Menstrual Hygiene Day. Model, DJ, and activist Mari Malek and her organization Stand For Education teamed up with Magdalena Concepts to offer this beautiful unisex shirt in support of the day. 100% of the proceeds will go toward “providing women and girls with clean, sustainable, and reusable feminine hygiene products so they can continue to work and learn uninterrupted.”
All over the world, young girls are missing school, and dealing with shame and poor hygiene as a result of poverty, as well as the social stigma attached to their menstrual cycles. Menstrual Hygiene Day hopes to educate girls and women and to help them access pads and products to help them manage their menstrual cycles. The project also aims bring boys into the conversation to help destigmatize periods.
According to MenstrualHygieneDay.org:
– UNESCO estimates that 1 in 10 African girls miss school during menses, eventually leading to a higher school drop out rate.
– In Ghana, girls miss up to 5 days a month attributed to inadequate sanitation facilities and the lack of sanitary products at school as well as physical discomfort due to menstruation, such as cramps.
– In Sierra Leone, girls who are normally active classroom participants sit in the back because they worried about emitting an odor or leaking through their clothes while menstruating.
In the United States, race, culture, and socioeconomic factors often affect what kind of information young black girls are given about their bodies. As writer Cece Jones-Davis states in “Why Black Women in the United States Must Talk About Menstruation Now” for the Huffington Post,
I also believe menstrual advocacy presents unique challenges for a lot of black women in the United States. Many of us carry so much shame about our bodies — our blood in particular. We struggle to see menstruation as a beautiful, God-given biological process because we remain psychologically damaged by all that has been negatively spoken about and done to our bodies. We’re still trying to see our bodies and its processes as sacred. Quite often, our bodies are more like unfamiliar machines, constantly receiving criticism and objectification. Also, our bodies have not always been our own. Many of us are still healing from our own rapes and the rapes of our maternal ancestors. We have not all reclaimed our blood as life-giving because so much of it has been profanely leaked. Many black women in America are busy trying to be socially “good enough” in a culture that has insisted that nothing about us is right. Menstruation is not neat, and does not aid us in rising above the many stigmas and stereotypes already attached to our person-hoods.
Learn more about Menstrual Hygiene Day at www.menstrualhygieneday.org.