By Olivia Mugabe
Today is World Menstrual Hygiene Day! We commemorate it every 28th May in order to put an end to the stigma around this precious stage of a woman’s life.
Every girl or woman has an untold story especially one about their first experience. Here is mine!
At some point in my school life I was called a THIEF! Indeed i was a thief because I had stolen. But why had I become a thief? I was only a victim of circumstance.
In February 2004, shortly after my 14th birthday, i got to cross the “RED SEA” for the very first time. I knew what had happened, i had an idea of this stage of life but truthfully, i wasn’t ready both materially and mentally!
From the time i learnt about this stage in a girl’s life, i dreaded it! There was so much fear of the unknown, the confusion, the anxiety, the judgments…..gosh!!!! (It was horrible)
On this ugly morning, i wake up “DIRTY” but had nothing to use. I waited for everyone else to get out of the dormitory as i thought of what to do next. The only available option was to sneak into my neighbor’s suit case and take off with a packet of sanitary towels. I indeed got to help myself! Of course my neighbor found out and there was a lot of commotion but I thank God it later got to pass. This was in my S.2 at Kako SS in Masaka.
What point I’m i driving home? I wasn’t comfortable talking about MENSTRUATION even to my own parents. I wasn’t ready to even enter a shop and buy pads for myself because of the stigma that surrounds it.
The BAD NEWS is that, there are still many girls like me! The taboos associated with menstruation make it hard for them to come out freely and seek help when the time reaches.
It is even worse that majority especially in rural areas have no access to sanitary towels. Last year, during my campaign, i got face to face with the harsh reality of life deep down in our villages. Girls use banana leaves, pieces of paper, old pieces of cloth..etc etc! The number of girls that drop out of school due to menstrual related cases is also over the top!
But…..we also have some GOOD NEWS! In 2015, i shared my story with a group of girl friends. It was a funny moment, listening to all their first experiences. ( One girl thought she was going to bleed to death 😂; Another hated fish up to date for funny reasons). Well, that’s how THE SISTERHOOD was birthed to help raise awareness and also reach out to different vulnerable girls in a bid to break all barriers around menstruation.
More good news is that, many other organisations have come out to offer widespread support to young girls and their caretakers.
There can never be enough help! Do something, help someone in all aspects! Our husbands, brothers and all men out there, it is your responsibility too! Menstruation is normal!
It’s Time For Action