The Cost of Being a Girl - Without a Sanitary Pad
October 7th, 2018
The 21st century has seen a wave of movements surrounding women’s rights and girl empowerment. More and more millennials are becoming advocates and campaigners for gender equality. The #MeToo movement, equal wage, reproductive rights; these issues are brought to the forefront in Western societies. In many other parts of the world, women and girls have long been struggling for basic rights. The problems faced in these communities prevent women from achieving equality, yet no much light has been shed on them.
To be a true believer and supporter of women’s rights, one ought to recognize the injustices faced by women in more vulnerable parts of the world, and to help them achieve equal rights. In Canada, the majority of teenage girls have regular access to menstrual products and sanitary health information. During menstrual period, some girls may miss classes due to crams and other bodily discomfort. In Africa, however, many girls miss school simply because they do not have the proper sanitary products to allow normal activities.
Barbara, a fourteen-year-old in Uganda, shared her story that is common to too many. Instead of sanitary pads, she had to use old cloths from her grandmother during her menstruation period. Such practice fails to offer proper protection and prevents the girl from attending school. Every month, Barbara would stay home and help with house works; she could only return to school once her menstrual cycle finishes. To girls like Barbara, one year of school is reduced to only ten months.
The lack of menstrual care poses a violation to basic women’s rights and a threat to education. Not only do they have to give up their rights to attend school, girls in affected communities are exposed to various diseases due to the unhygienic practices - using old cloths, bed sponges, and banana leaves. Unequal educational opportunities, health hazards, lack of empowerment - all created by the inaccessibility of proper sanitary products.
At Good Neighbors Canada, we are working toward the distribution of sanitary pads to Ugandan communities and creating a better life for girls like Barbara.
VICKY QIAO / GOOD NEIGHBORS CANADA