Campaign: Global Citizen News

Why a Lack of Menstrual Hygiene Is Actually a Form of Gender-Based Violence

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It's bad enough to feel lonely and alienated in a world comprised of people who devalue women. However, to be forced from the comfort of your home on every menstrual cycle and isolated from the community, compelled to endure days of solitude and seclusion without the slightest shreds of tenderness, obligated to go through difficult situations just to survive, is pure hell.

Lack of access to water and proper menstrual hygiene management robs women an intrinsic component of their personal lives; their dignity and ability to pursue their goals and dreams. Women in the remote corners of the world have no access to the coveted basic resources such as the sanitary towels. For many individuals in these rural communities of developing nations, menstruation is a rigorous activity, in many ways, accompanied by humiliation and distress. Women and girls usually devour their days of seclusion in the bushes near riverbanks, sitting on sand as a measure to counter their monthly flow. This is sad, but even more depressing is that the ultimate impact of stigma associated with the menstrual blood is a life-long psychological trauma and an unfulfilled life.

This whole existence of the lack of menstruation sanitation implements is, frankly, centered on violence against womanhood. Er, Pardon? Yes, you heard that right; we didn't choose the uterus life, uteri life chose us. According to The World Economic Forum prediction, gender gap won't close until 2186. We don’t know about you, but to us, the 22nd Century seems like a very long time to wait. Why not take a monumental step now to ensure that all women, regardless of their age, race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status have access to sanitary towels?

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The distorted scope of the lens through which the menstrual cycle management is analyzed and addressed is unsettling; an absurd and frightening proposition which degrades women by stripping them of their femininity. Women go to extreme lengths just to pull through their menses and, depending on their cycle, this ranges from 4-7days every month. In lieu of ignoring the plight of the voiceless or offering ephemeral solutions, it’s time to stand up and revamp the feminine mystique that weaves and holds the fabric our society together. This is because the shortage of appropriate sanitary measures has led to an increased rate of school drop outs as well as an alarming surge in infant and maternal mortality and morbidity rates. The utter lack of modest sanitation measures ought to be declared a public health crisis because women in these Third World areas would have much preferred in retrospect had they had access to these basic amenities.

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The need for emancipation from the chains of oppressive patriarchal systems was a pivotal framework upon which Universal KEY (a non-governmental organization) was founded. This charity was inherently established with the concept of empowering the most vulnerable and disenfranchised members of our global society; mostly women, children, youth and disabled, whose immense potential would otherwise remain suppressed and crippled by the lack of resources. We capacitate these individuals with the required skills and financial support to competently prevail through their struggles of life. By providing them with the necessary resources needed to rise from the ashes of poverty and misery, we empower them to journey towards an autonomous future where they wouldn’t necessarily rely on aid in form of foreign donations for the rest of their lives. We achieve this by reaching out and investing our funds towards access to basic needs such as access to clean water, sanitary towels among other proper hygiene measures. Run by first-hand victims of poverty resulting from oppressive systems, we work towards restoring the feminine majestic grandeur, by means of providing women and girls with menstruation kits as opposed to the unhealthy isolation option during their menstrual cycle.

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School-going girls are disproportionately affected as they are more susceptible to the direct negative impacts associated with inadequate menstruation tools within the academia. This is because the ability to learn and perform at optimal rate dwindles away when one must constantly worry about their lack of menstrual hygiene. The force is strong with this group as the inability to cope with the challenging situation steers most of the girls out of schools eventually trapping them into the child marriage menace, bordered on the dowry-driven obsession. It is, therefore, paramount for people to become cognizant of the fact that sanitary towels are not a luxury but a necessity lest it robs generations of women a chance to rip the benefits of education. In addition to increasing the illiteracy levels, this lack of education equally raids the Developing Nations a supply of skilled female workers.

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Treating women as inferior (read dirty) beings without an alternative option to counter their menstrual flow, in the status quo, manifests a protected status of one gender over the other; a notion that clearly submits to the theology of sexual repression, depression, and oppression of women. It stems from shame-based pedagogies that ascribe to the objectification of members of the female gender. Such subjugation not only destroys our human autonomy but also replaces it with a tyrannical manipulation of our very existence. More so, it impairs our social and mental growth rendering us disturbingly dependent. The point is, we should reject the assumption that menstruation hygiene should be pigeonholed into hegemonic elucidation that automatically brands it an all-compassing female burden. This extremely uncompromising situation inevitably destroys any platform for enlightened debate about the management of the menstrual cycle.

Both women and men are either directly or indirectly affected by this issue, ergo more light should be shed on this ominous public health issue. The least we can do is acknowledge this fundamental social concern that devalues and disrespects women and then find avenues to avail these much-needed sanitary hygiene products. That being said, we do acknowledge that we are living in a pivotal time where the world is rapidly changing. The world is becoming predominantly good as more and more people and world leaders are standing up and fighting for what is just. As a matter of fact, it's safe to take it a notch higher and premise it with the fact that we are more accepting and compassionate than ever before, and are beginning to recognize that we need to work together for a greater good. There is so much love and so many amazing people from every country around the globe who have rallied behind causes that make our world a better home for the earthlings. You too can help drive change and bring us closer to gender parity and dignity restoration by joining the global citizen campaign in supporting improving the availability and accessibility of provision of sanitary towels today. We are grateful to everyone who follows and supports our work, it means the world to our universal beneficiaries. If you haven't done so yet, please do join our network through this menstrual hygiene campaign and let's keep growing together en route to healing our world and transforming it into a hospitable habitat.

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The thing is, there is nothing more fulfilling than to be grateful that we even get to experience any sort of existence at all. I mean, the chances that we get to be alive in our magnificent human form with awareness of our existence is infinitesimally small, we might as well enjoy it, and help others find delight in it too. In the words of a wise friend, Dennis Lehane, sympathy is easy. You have sympathy for starving children swatting at flies on the late-night commercials. Sympathy is easy because it comes from a position of power. Empathy, on the other hand, is getting on your knees and looking someone else in the eye, and realizing that you could be them and that all that separates you is luck.

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