What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘menstruation’? Or, actually, let’s rephrase: when you hear it in a room filled with both women and men? Shame? Disgust? Awkwardness? If something as natural as periods provokes these feelings within you, then you might be a part of the problem. What problem, you ask? The problem that perpetuates the stigma attached to periods. Periods have forever been a topic considered inappropriate or too taboo to be talked about in public. And when you agree with that narrative, you’re feeding into a problem that we’ve had for a long time.
Menstruation is a completely natural phenomenon, yet even in 2019 we’re given awkward stares and called shameless if we dare say the word ‘period’ out loud! Periods don’t make a woman any less of a human being nor do they make her impure – let’s finally get this age-old myth out of our minds. It’s high time we stop treating periods like a taboo and accept its nature as just another bodily function.
Lately, discussions on periods, their impact on women, social perceptions, sanitary products and sustainable ways of helping menstruating women are quite prevalent in our part of the world. Several posters were even spotted at this year’s Aurat March in support of normalising the discourse around menstruation and the unavailability of basic menstrual products was highlighted. Fortunately, there are initiatives working to make period products accessible to women, introduce sustainable sanitary products and spread awareness of post and pre-menstrual syndrome among women.
You may or may not agree, but it’s safe to say that Pakistan is finally on its way to normalising periods! There’s still a long way to go but as the Chinese proverb say, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Take a look at the reasons why we think we’re progressing towards a period-friendly Pakistan.
1. It’s Being Discussed More Openly Than Ever Before
Ten years ago, nobody could’ve even imagined menstruation being discussed so openly or women coming out on the roads asking for their basic health rights. But fast-forward to 2019 and this is slowly becoming a reality. Informative sessions are being held to talk about periods and women are raising their voices about their menstrual health. For instance, at the much talked about Aurat March, many women held placards protesting the luxury tax on sanitary products while others urged men to understand the struggles women go through during their monthly cycle. The conversation is finally taking place!
2. Innovation In Menstrual Products
Innovation in menstrual products show that the problems women were face while on their period are finally being recognised. Better products aimed at making periods less painful and uncomfortable are gaining popularity. While the world was introduced to menstrual cups — an eco-friendlier and economical option — almost a decade ago, women in Pakistan have recently started getting familiar with them. Considering they’re more affordable than pads and tampons, since it’s a one-time cost, they’re gradually becoming the go-to product for many.
3. Men Are Also Talking About It
To bring about significant change and to end period-shaming, we need men in the conversation. While a majority of men are still unaware or uncomfortable to talk about period, there are some who are striving to normalise periods and spread awareness alongside women. A number of male celebrities are also are taking part in the conversation – they’re participating in social media campaigns and voicing their opinions on the subject matter. That’s a huge step in the right direction!
4. The Role New Age Mothers Are Playing
Some of us have grown up being taught that we can’t talk to our male family members or friends about periods. Special shout out to the families who never enforced this rule! We can’t solely blame our mothers for this because they’re also products of a patriarchal society that considers periods uncouth. Luckily, things are changing. A new generation of mothers understand the need to educate their sons and daughters on this topic. These mothers are now teaching their sons about periods and what women go through to help end the stigma regarding menstruation. Let’s all raise our boys better!