Menstrual Care = Health Care – PERIOD! #FREETHETAMPONS
I love being a woman, it is at most times empowering and awesome for many reasons, but we are also faced with the unlucky hand that is our PERIODS! I was one of those unlucky souls who did not start in the comfort of their own home, but in the home of a new friend and family I barely knew. I had to contemplate a plan of action, on that porcelain throne that had just allowed me to learn that I had in fact become a woman. I used probably half the role of toilet paper to turn my once “flirtitude” undies into a full blown diaper. Then I was able to come out and tell my friend and her mom discretely that I had started my period. They had offered me a wide selection of toiletries I could choose from to help conceal the massacre occurring in my uterus along with calling my mom, who of course rushed over only after going to the store to bought every brand of everything to prepare as well. To me it was an embarrassing moment where I almost felt like I had committed some sort of crime, whispering in the house and on the phone so my friend’s dad wouldn’t hear. Not that he would have shamed me for anything, but just that I was dying of pure embarrassment.
As unlucky as I felt, I learned over time that I had a far better experience than most women around the world, I learned I was lucky. I was lucky to have a toilet to sit on safely while I planned out what to do. I was lucky to have women there to confide in and ask for help. I was lucky to have extra underwear and an array of toiletry options. I was lucky to be able to return to my middle school sleepover after only an hour or two of a little embarrassment. I was lucky on this pivotal day in my life; there are so many other young women who could only dream to obtain a little of my luck on their same life changing day
Most of the knowledge I have obtained on this topic comes from, Jessica Valenti, the author of “The Case For Free Tampons”, from the Feminism column of The Guardian. She sheds light on the topic of free feminine hygiene products for all women.
Whenever we face an issue of something to be made free or provided, it will inevitably become a controversial topic. This controversy especially occurs when about half of the world’s population does not understand the dire need due to being blessed with a Y chromosome. Trust me I believe that being able to create life is the ultimate blessing, but the hardships we endure to get there through the sloughing off of our uterine walls in preparation for this miracle life can be detrimental to our lives! . . . Yup I have probably lost all male viewers intrigued enough to read this article, so now we can get to business lol. No, but really the strain menstruation puts on any woman’s life is truly being overlooked by our opposite sex, especially those that are in powerful government positions where policies can be passed to aide us women. It is our right, as 50% of the worlds population, to obtain sanitary products that allow us to continue our daily lives and our daily contributions to society.
Valenti states the fact, “The United Nations and Human Rights Watch, for example, have both linked menstrual hygiene to human rights. Earlier this year, Jyoti Sanghera, chief of the UN Human Rights Office on Economic and Social Issues, called the stigma around menstrual hygiene ‘a violation of several human rights, most importantly the right to human dignity'”. Do you agree? She also explains, “In countries where sanitary products are inaccessible or unaffordable, menstruation can mean missed school for girls (UNICEF estimates 10% of African girls don’t attend school during their periods) and an increased dropout rate, missed work for women and repeated vaginal infections because of unsanitary menstrual products. One study showed that in Bangladesh, 73% of female factory workers miss an average of six days – and six days of pay – every month because of their periods”. Does this sound like human rights are equal in these types of situations? Should these women have to dropout of school or lose hours of vital pay at their jobs just because they are biologically a woman who endures menstruation once a month. Let us not forget that menstruation is the female body’s way of preparing itself to do what? Oh yeah, just develop a child and continue the human race! True we would not be able to create this life with out one of men’s vital components, but what do they sacrifice for this contribution to the continuance of the human race.
Valenti enlightens us that, “Charities have picked up some of the slack in rural communities across the world – companies like LunaPads, for example, launched Pads4Girls, a program that provides in-kind donations of menstrual products”. To me ‘some of the slack’ only in ‘rural communities’, although a great step in the right direction, just doesn’t cut it when we are talking about half of the world’s population! Valenti states another enlightening fact on this topic from the US: “. . . though breast pumps, vasectomies and artificial teeth are sales tax-exempt and tax-deductible medical care, tampons are not even exempted from sales tax in some states (including California and New York, two of the most populous states)”. Tampons as well as other menstrual products are more of a dire need for medical care than these items. If they have proven these tax-exempt and tax-deductible, how have they not already included menstrual products? Why the controversy? Valentin suggests, “. . . much in the same way insurance coverage or subsidies for birth control are mocked or met with outrage, the idea of women even getting small tax breaks for menstrual products provokes incredulousness because some people lack an incredible amount of empathy … and because it has something to do with vaginas”.
I agree with Valenti that it all comes down to the fact that, “. . . this is less an issue of costliness than it is of principle: menstrual care is health care, and should be treated as such”. It is truly a simple idea of necessary health care that has been avoided with controversy. Whether we believe it or not, there is still a vast amount of inequality in this world. If we look at the people representing our human rights in government, majority of them are male and cannot truly understand or even realize the importance of this topic enough to push them to want to pass a policy of provided/free menstrual products. I am done having this topic go unheard! I am done feeling shamed and belittled when talking about our human right to menstrual hygiene! I am done with buying overpriced products just so I can ensure I do not bleed all over myself or others! I am most of all done with women having to give up their lives every month just because they are not lucky enough to afford these overpriced products!
ARE YOU DONE!?! If yes join the conversation, join the movement to make a change in the world of menstrual care. Speak up not only for yourself, but for the millions of unlucky women who cannot.
To join the movement:
- Change for the UK
- Become a part of Menstrual Hygiene Day #menstruationmatters
- Drive the demand for access to tampons and pads in restrooms outside your home- #FREETHETAMPONS
- KEEP A GIRL IN SCHOOL!
- Just spread the word!:)
To join the conversation:
Comment your opinions on this topic below! I would love to keep this discussion alive through all of your wonderful opinions!
<3Thanks for making your way through this piece, I hope I sparked a fire in some, to those who join the conversation and movement I love you and your passion. And to those who read this and continue on with their lives, not ready or compelled enough to join, I love you anyways! <3