Busting myths around menstruation
Menstrual hygiene and reproductive health remains a topic of taboo in many South Asian countries, yet is the root cause of pressing social issues, including sexually-transmitted diseases, teen-pregnancies and various forms of social stigma. The ACCEND project is working to bridge the gap between fact and myth with a series of programmes to create awareness around misinformed attitudes and to promote healthy, sustainable practices on menstrual hygiene among school girls.
The programme is one of many awareness and educational sessions the ACCEND project will implement to create positive and healthy menstrual practises among young girls and promote better sex-education among students. Sessions are led by OXFAM and ADRA with support of European Union (EU), Regional Director of Health Services (RDHS) and the Zonal Educational Office (ZEO[TK1] ).
Through video presentations, distribution of educational material and open discussions with trained consultants, over 100 young girls from the MO/ Balaharuwa Secondary School recently participated in such a programme.
The awareness programmes tackles physical, psychological and social changes young people experience during puberty and thereafter, such as development/changes to sexual organs, the desire for independence, attraction to another, menstruation cycle and how to mark and calculate one’s period. To further follow up on this session an educational leaflet with a menstrual calendar was shared with all students, as a guide and tool to further understand menstruation and one’s individual cycle.
The discussion opened the floor for students to question and learn aspects of puberty and adolescence that are overlooked in traditional classroom environments. It was evident how vital such discourses are when considering some of the questions asked during the Q&A session of the workshop. Many of them were shrouded in cultural myth, such as “is it true that sour food should not be consumed during the menstrual cycle?” or “is bathing a deterrent to blood flow during the menstrual cycle?”