“Is that your small black bag in the bathroom?” my female co-worker leaned toward me and whispered.
We’re the only two women in the office and though we share a bathroom with other women in our building, we are the only ones there on a regular basis. She knew it was mine and could probably guess exactly what was in that little bag.
I don’t carry a purse, so I have to pull the small black bag out when I have my period. I throw it in the bag I bring with me to work and then transfer it to my gym bag on my workout days.
Why is it that I always start my period on a workout day? Not a fun experience, especially on leg day. For so many reasons.
Period drama. We’ve all had it. Well, us women have at least. (If you are a man and still reading this, I commend you.)
I share this private information with you because tomorrow (May 28th) is Menstrual Hygiene Day. I wrote a post last year for ONE about how it’s time to talk about menstruation. WaterAid shared a tongue-in-cheek ad for “Manpons” in an effort to de-stigmatize the topic of menstruation around the world.
This year, WaterAid has created a short film that features the 10 most awkward Period Dramas. The film illustrates the findings from a survey of over 1,000 women from across the US about their dread of #perioddrama.
The goal is to raise awareness of the issues faced by more than 1 billion women around the world who do not have access to a toilet, even when they’re on their periods.
Period drama is universal and much of the drama depicted in the film has been around for centuries. Here’s what WaterAid found for women in the US:
- 49% of women say the most annoying #perioddrama is not knowing when your next period is going to start
- 37% of women say the most annoying #perioddrama is the sound of a sanitary pad crunching when you sit down
- 20% of women say the most annoying #perioddrama is not knowing what to do when you lose the string to your tampon
- 86% of women say their biggest #perioddrama fear is blood leaking on their clothes when out in public
- 45% of women say the most annoying #perioddrama is sneezing when on your period and being scared of leaking
- 23% of women say they’ve been forced to take sick leave because of one #perioddrama in particular: period pains
- 33% of women say their most annoying #perioddrama is having to ask their other half to go to the store to buy sanitary products
- 52% of women say their most annoying #perioddrama is not knowing when they’ll find the next bathroom when travelling
- 61% of women say that their biggest #perioddrama fear is unexpectedly running out of tampons/pads when out and about
- 78% of women say that they’ve had to adapt their lifestyle to avoid #perioddrama
If we think the above is drama, imagine what it’s like for more than 1 billion women and girls around the world today who don’t have access to a toilet. Not having a toilet puts girls at risk of attack and harassment, leads to girls dropping out of school and limits their life changes. In rural Nepal and northern India, the outlawed practice of chhaupadi prevails, with women being ostracized from their families while on their period.
WaterAid’s commitment to menstrual hygiene was born from women and girls voicing the difficulties they faced around their periods. During a project visit to a village in the Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh State in India in 2007, an adolescent girl told WaterAid staff that her mother did not allow her to use the household’s toilet while she is menstruating because she is considered impure. During another visit to a village in Sheopur district, a woman casually mentioned that has used the same set of cloths to manage her period for the last four years. These two small incidents brought to light another dimension of the sanitation and hygiene world and led WaterAid to focus specifically on ways to help women and girls manage their periods in safety and dignity.
WaterAid has released powerful pictures such as the one above to mark Menstrual Hygiene Day and the organization’s ongoing efforts to help women and girls achieve the dignity they deserve. You can view all the beautiful photos here:
Will you celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day and help break the taboos?
Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer.