Chelsea Clinton has spoken out on the continuing stigma surrounding women’s bodily functions such as breastfeeding and menstruation.
In an impassioned essay for Well+Good, the former First Daughter argued that more needs to be done to support women and girls across the world when it comes to facing the challenges that come with female biology.
“Too often, in too many places, we don’t support girls and women who are menstruating and mothers who are breastfeeding,” she said.
Addressing the cultural taboos about such issues, Clinton added: “Unfortunately, breastfeeding and menstruation remain fraught with cultural stigma, both here in the US and around the globe.
“Far too many girls and boys alike are socialised to think these are shameful topics – only to be discussed with our family and doctors, and we’re certainly not supposed to let anyone else see us dealing with them.”
The mother-of-two, who works for The Clinton Foundation, also brought her own personal experience of womanhood to the piece.
Talking about the shame and embarrassment that surrounded periods for her as a young girl, she said: “Remember how awkward you felt in school each time you carried a tampon or pad to the bathroom?
“Did you haul your whole backpack into the stall with you, like I did?”
She also cited her own trials with breastfeeding, saying: “Breastfeeding is another area that too often is treated with a cringe or even silence. After I gave birth to both my children, I spent a lot of time thinking about and planning how to breastfeed and how to pump once I went back to work.
“Sometimes I mistimed feeding or pumping and I could feel the milk leak out and soak the pads in my bra.”
But the author, advocate and feminist was quick to acknowledge the privileges she benefits from that women in both the developing world and parts of the US do not, stressing that she is on a mission to make these issues part of the narrative of education and development.
Explaining the exact nature of the work she is doing, she added:“The Foundation encourages robust family leave and supports lactating mothers through our own policies and operations, as well as through No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project and other initiatives.
“Additionally, we’ve also worked closely with global partners through prior CGI commitments to educate young girls on healthy menstrual management, provide them with reusable sanitary pads and cleaning supplies, and empower them to stay in school and on track for success.”
Images: Rex Features