Amplifying youth voices on sexual health and rights in radio programming in Benin
Girls have been sharing their learnings from our sexual and reproductive health and rights programming on the radio in Benin.
For billions of young people worldwide, menstruation is a monthly reality. Yet in many countries, they still face serious challenges when it comes to managing their periods.
Myths, stigma and harmful gender norms around menstruation exacerbate the difficulties for young people across the world.
Pictured: Zarinah, 15, from Uganda with one of the reusable sanitary pads she has made. Photo credit: Plan International.
If not properly managed, menstruation can interrupt daily life. Adolescents especially experience extremely painful periods which can affect their attendance and performance at school. A lack of adequate facilities and materials, restrictions on girls’ movements during their period and feeling ashamed or ‘unclean’ also contribute to girls skipping school.
Taboos, myths and shame surrounding menstruation can lead to teasing, shaming and exclusion from daily activities and have a negative effect on girls’ feelings of dignity.
Girls’ ability to manage their menstrual health is worsening due to the hunger crisis.
Sofiana, 13, from Haiti and Hamda, 15, from Somalia share their stories.
Period-shame is rooted in gender inequality. Cultural and religious traditions around periods are often derived from discriminatory, patriarchal norms about a girl’s status and place in society.
As a result, girls and women are often expected to refrain from normal activities, such as bathing or cooking and may even be banished from the home during their period. These restrictions and negative attitudes towards menstruation affect girls’ self-esteem.
Lucky was married at 14. Now she is empowering girls to stay in school and become financially empowered – all while busting menstruation taboos!
Together with local governments and schools we are training district health workers, teachers and volunteers to educate young people about periods and talk about them in a shame-free way.
We also distribute menstrual health materials in schools and teach girls how to manage their periods so they feel confident and stay in school.
By improving menstrual health and tackling period-shame we can improve girls’ attendance and performance at school; break down taboos and misconceptions around menstruation; raise girls’ self-esteem and enable girls to fully participate in all aspects of society.