Breaking taboos surrounding menstruation, a project to distribute sanitary napkins to girls in one district of Bangladesh has had a positive impact on school dropout rates – and should be replicated in other parts of the country, experts say.
Around the world girls are struggling to stay in school when their menstrual hygiene needs are forgotten or ignored, yet the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and education sectors have remained reluctant to address the issue.
Every month, more than two billion women around the world menstruate, and yet the topic is still shrouded by a veil of silence. While some girls celebrate their period as the first step into womanhood, many girls in developing or emerging countries are shocked and ashamed of their monthly cycles.
When Peninah Mamayi got her period last January, she was scared, confused and embarrassed. But like thousands of other girls in the developing world who experience menarche having no idea what menstruation is, Mamayi, who lives with her sister-in-law in a village in Tororo, eastern Uganda, kept quiet.
Fifteen-year-old Nasreen Jehan, a student in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, proudly flaunts a yellow and red beaded bracelet encircling her wrist. This humble accessory, she tells IPS, is her most treasured possession.