Access to sanitary products enabled Akeza to carry on her education after her periods had left her scared to leave home
“I would like younger girls to know that they should not be afraid of menstruation.”
“When I menstruated, my father saw me washing my underpants. I was very shocked and did not say a word. He asked me what it was and I told him nothing. My mother told my father it is normal for girls to experience this, but my father did not believe her. He said that menstruation happens only after a girl has had sex with a man and that I am not ready. Then, he beat me and asked me to tell him how this happened to me.”
Suffering in silence
The sad truth is that there is little support for menstruating girls. This important step into adulthood is not openly talked about and often misunderstood. The first time many girls learn about their periods is by having them. Girls like 16 year old Akeza say: “The first time I menstruated, I had stomach cramps and I was very shocked! I told my friend that I had started menstruating because my mother did not tell me about it before. Mothers do not usually talk about menstruation or puberty with their daughters.”
In the Tigray region of Ethiopia, 98% of girls lack access to sanitary products. In the region, they are are expensive and difficult to find. Girls are forced to use whatever materials are available such as grass, leaves, old rags or nothing at all.
Keeping girls in school
Many young women are afraid to go to school during their period where they can face ridicule from their classmates. Some even drop out altogether missing their chance to create a better future for themselves. “I was so embarrassed, I was afraid to leave the house. I didn’t even to go to school,” Akeza says.
“I would like younger girls to know that they should not be afraid of menstruation. They shouldn’t be shocked, upset, or embarrassed. It is a sign of being a woman.”
With the support of our partner, young women like Akeza are each given a pack containing sanitary products that help them manage their monthly cycles discreetly so they can stay in school.
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