Having a period might seem like the most natural thing in the world but in many countries, a woman’s monthly cycle is amazingly still seen as a taboo.
Now actress Meghan Markle has written an online essay imploring everyone to move beyond the “puritanical bashfulness” that sees menstruation treated as shameful and embarrassing in order to highlight the plight of girls and women in India facing stigmatization.
Markle, 35, is an ambassador for World Vision – a role that her boyfriend Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, also took on – and wrote for Time magazine about a recent trip she had with the charity to India.
Published on International Women’s Day, she said in the piece: “Many girls shared that they feel embarrassed to go to school during their periods, ill equipped with rags instead of pads, unable to participate in sports and without bathrooms available to care for themselves, they often opt to drop out of school entirely.”
Because of the stigma, 23% of girls drop out or miss 145 school days a year: “As a female in India, the challenge of survival begins at birth, first overcoming female feticide, then being victim to malnourishment, potentially abuse, and lack of access to proper sanitation facilities.
“Why, if she is able to overcome all of these challenges and finally get to school, should her education and potential to succeed, be sacrificed because of shame surrounding her period?”
The actress goes on to say the issue isn’t confined to India. “In communities all over the globe, young girls' potential is being squandered because we are too shy to talk about the most natural thing in the world.”
The Suits star included a poem by American writer Nayyirah Waheed on her Instagram yesterday, which she captioned: “To always knowing your worth”.
To drive home her point, she concludes that talking is the way forward: “We need to push the conversation, mobilize policy making surrounding menstrual health initiatives, support organizations who foster girls' education from the ground up, and within our own homes, we need to rise above our puritanical bashfulness when it comes to talking about menstruation.
“Wasted opportunity is unacceptable with stakes this high.”
Read the full essay at time.com.
Images: Rex Features