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No bleeding, no humanity

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Added 24th April 2019 10:49 AM

Menstruation is a guarantee of continuity of humanity. If there was no bleeding, women would not be able to get pregnant.

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Menstruation is a guarantee of continuity of humanity. If there was no bleeding, women would not be able to get pregnant.

 

OPINION
 
By Ackissah Baluti
 
I was only 13 when I had my first period. I didn’t know about pads and how to overcome the excruciating cramps.
 
I don’t remember how many times I threw my under wears in toilets and how many clothes I tore. 
 
It was only after I opened up to my friends who had had their periods before me that I was guided on what to do.  I then began feeling comfortable, at ease and free with my periods. My girl guiding group also helped me to know more after undertaking inclusive lessons on menstruation.
 
I wish I had adequate information about menstruation before going through it and, I wish I had had open conversations with my guardians so that I could freely talk to them and ask all the questions I needed answers to.
 
I know there are millions of girls and young women who have a lot of unanswered questions, wishing someone could openly talk to them about menstruation so that they can at least have an idea of what is happening to them.
 
In most parts of Africa, menstruation is a sensitive subject due to the negative cultural attitudes and stigma associated with it.
 
Besides the ‘silence’ on menstruation issues, many young women  continue to drop out of school due to preventable causes like not being able to manage their menstrual hygiene leading to shame and embarrassment;  lack of materials to manage the blood and absence of or inappropriate facilities for disposal of materials (toilets).
 
Through the YESS Girls Movement, an International Exchange Programme of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), Girl Guides have been at the fore front promoting period pride in Africa since 2017 when the Yes!  Girls Can be proud of their periods campaign was undertaken in eight countries (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Rwanda, Madagascar, Zambia and Zimbabwe). 
 
This year, a core initiative called Red Pride MHM Education was introduced in partnership with Wash United, a German NGO which founded the May 28 International Menstrual Hygiene Day which is celebrated across the world.  
 
The Red Pride initiative is a menstrual hygiene non formal education programme, where girls are trained to manage their periods; but are also reminded that they should be proud to bleed because every single human being on planet earth was born because a woman was bleeding.
 
Menstruation is a guarantee of continuity of humanity. If there was no bleeding, women would not be able to get pregnant.
 
Because of this reality, rather than become a shame, girls and young women are supported to be proud of their periods, track their menstruation cycles, take care of themselves without soiling their clothes, make their own reusable sanitary towels, be confident in class even when in their periods, be able to take part in all sports activities and different community functions even when they are menstruating, etc.

Precious Phiri (in blue dress) from the Girl Guides Association of Zimbabwe and Mukuni Kapapa from Girl Guides Association of Zambia, demonstrate to the students at Wampeewo Ntake Secondary School how sanitary towels are used.

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In Uganda alone, over 838 girls and young women have been introduced to the Red Pride MHM Education initiative and schools that have been involved include Wampeewo Ntake and St. Charles Lwanga Secondary Schools.
 
More schools will be involved and Uganda Girl Guides Association has involved parents, boys and men in this initiative to demystify the false beliefs and attitudes so that the girls can be supported.
 
The message is simple:  it is okay to bleed, girls and women should be proud to bleed and they should be supported as they have a huge responsibility to continue existence of humanity. For this to happen, girls and women must bleed.
 
The writer is a YESS Girls Movement Programme Assistant for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS); and a Menstrual Hygiene Education Activist

 

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