Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Mildred Chirwa
The 28th of May of every year is World Menstrual Hygiene Day. The aim of this day is to encourage people around the world to promote activities that ensure menstruation is met with hygienic conditions to avoid diseases but also to normalize and spread a positive message about menstruation.
Researchers have found that menstruation is one of the contributing factors to low school enrollment, high rates of absenteeism from school, and school drop-out rates among girls and young women in low-income areas. As such, it is of great importance that we sensitize communities to observe menstrual hygiene by making sure that sanitary menstrual materials are accessible to girls and young women.
In some cultures, girls are sexually exploited due to the lack of information on menstruation. For instance, the myth that menstrual pains can be cured by having unprotected sex with a man, demonstrates the lack of information that I am stressing on. This practice can lead to unplanned pregnancies, early marriages and eventually, dropping out of school. I believe that when issues of menstruation are freely talked about, in our families and communities, inaccurate information on menstruation can be avoided, leading to one more girl realizing her full potential, and one more dream coming true.
However, due to the nature of our culture and religion in Malawi, menstrual matters are not well discussed, and girls and young women do not have enough information concerning this subject. In many places in Malawi, menstruation is taken as a taboo and people live throughout their lives pretending that it does not exist. This is the reason why I organized a meeting with my GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Club members where we discussed how to stay hygienic during menstruation. We also had an information session where we played informative games with the idea of clearing out some taboos around menstruation. For one of the games we did ‘truth or dare’, and ‘I wish’. At the end of it all, GLOW members discussed questions raised on some topics concerning menstruation in general.
“Menstrual hygiene matters and we need to work together to end the taboos surrounding menstruation in Malawi. Girls and women should be able to live with a positive attitude around their menses.”