10/6/2022 - Politics and Society

Menstruation A problem that is far from being resolved

By serena alurralde

Menstruation A problem that is far from being resolved

It is important to be aware of the difficulties faced by the menstruating population only by the simple fact of menstruating. This problem becomes deeper in the sectors of lower resources and in the people who are in a street situation or vulnerability.menstruation is one of the factors that increase inequality between girls, adolescents, women and men.

The gap of inequality

Just to mention an indicator, menstrual management and feminine hygiene products have costs to which it often becomes impossible to access, generating an important economic gap. According to a survey conducted for Argentina in 2021, the Always brand (P&G), this problem increased during pandemic and 27% of the surveyed said it was more difficult to access these products. In 2022, the annual cost of menstruating using female toallites is $7,373 and using $7,745 caps (according to the Ecofeminita report).The problem begins in day one: during their period, many girls and/or adolescents are absent from school, and even abandon. With the negative consequences that this generates, in Argentina, 1 of every 5 school-aged girls do not attend classes. The rest of Latin American countries also cannot manage menstruation, so 43% of women prefer not to attend school these days. This is due not only to the shortage of inputs, but also to the precariousness or lack of necessary facilities in schools, clean water and current to wash hands, and baths with privacy, among other multiple reasons.In this context, there is an inequality in education: if women have the same opportunities to receive a complete and ausentism-free education, it is more likely that in the future they are more able to make decisions in their homes, that do not suffer violence and enjoy greater psychological and physical well-being.

menstruation remains a taboo

Although it is an ancestral theme, paradoxically, menstruation remains a taboo and, reaching the 21st century there is no accurate and pragmatic information. Although it is a normal state for all people who have uterus, many feel ashamed not knowing how to react when they have their first menstruation. Even worse, the only mention generates a shame that leads to resorting to codes or synonyms, and even the use of phrases with names of men: “Vennos Andrés”.We don't have a proper menstrual education from an early age and we add that men don't know how to behave either. Do we ever talk to our parents about our period? The combination doesn't help.In the face of our first menstruation, how many times have we heard; “happiness, you have become a woman”. The girls that menstrúan are not women, are still girls. For example, in some places, according to a 2019 publication of the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), understand menstruation as a sign that girls are in conditions for marriage, the beginning of their sexual life and even an early motherhood: do we all want to be mothers?These situations promote sexual violence, the trafficking of women and child marriage. "My father told me they were getting married," He referred to the UNFPA a 13-year-old Kenyan girl when describing the beginning of puberty. When the period came, he reported, "I felt ashamed to be a girl, and it seemed a punishment."As if this were little, invisibilization and lack of means to properly understand this process has serious consequences from the presence of infections, unwanted pregnancies, health problems to infertility.With the aim of generating more awareness of these and other challenges, the global Hygiene Day platform since 2014, brings together private sectors, media, non-profit organizations, government sectors, among other actors to promote good health and menstrual hygiene.As another positive example, to face the problem of menstrual poverty in Argentina, Always delivered more than 1 million wipes over 347 schools so that more than 10,000 girls continue with their everyday life. This class of initiatives helps, but does not reach. It is necessary to design long-term public policies and to articulate all public and private actors so that together they take action against the problem we face.

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serena alurralde

serena alurralde

Hi! I am Serena, lic. in International Relations at Torcuato Di Tella University. I obtained the diploma for Equality and Empowerment of Women at the University of Salamanca. I love poetry and music. I write and recite at live reading events.

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