Each day, some 800 million people between the ages of 15 - 49 are menstruating. Yet for so many, a natural biological process spells more than a monthly inconvenience.
In some countries, menstruation is taboo or riddled with myths, and women and girls are excluded from daily activities because of stigma, shame or discrimination or because they are considered unclean. In others, menarche may lead to child marriage or sexual violence because it signals a girl is ready for motherhood or sexual activity. Girls may miss school because they do not have access to sanitary supplies, they are in pain or their schools lack adequate sanitary facilities. Some girls do not understand what’s happening to their bodies. And more than 26 million women and girls are estimated to be displaced because of conflict or climate disaster, robbing them of dignity when they have difficulty managing their periods and exacerbating their vulnerability.
While some countries have addressed period poverty, or the hardship of affording menstrual products, more can be done, especially in normalizing something 1.9 billion people of reproductive age do – girls, women, transgender men and nonbinary people. Menstruation should not mean the end of rights to health, dignity and gender equality.