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.

Girls learn how to use the Period Panty fitted with a reusable absorbent liner. Menstruation and menstrual hygiene management are a monthly reality for people who menstruate.

How does menstruation affect lives?

  • Education: Young people may miss school during their periods due to lack of facilities or necessary supplies
  • Economics: They may miss work if they don’t have access to the supplies or facilities they need.
  • Health: Use of improvised menstrual hygiene management materials can lead to illness
  • Dignity: They may suffer from discomfort, endure teasing and shaming or face exclusion from everyday activities
  • Participation: They may be distracted or less productive during school and other activities due to pain, discomfort or fear of leaks.

How can periods affect young people?

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.

Helping girls manage their periods during Covid-19

Quarantine measures are cutting girls off from essential health services. Now, more than ever, girls must feel safe to speak out about their needs without shame.

Why are people who menstruate discriminated against?

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.

Busting Period Taboos in Bangladesh

Lucky was married at 14. Now she is empowering girls to stay in school and become financially empowered – all while busting menstruation taboos!

What is Plan International doing to support menstrual hygiene management?

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 hygiene materials in schools and teach girls how to manage their periods so they feel confident and stay in school.

What are the benefits of a period-shame-free society?

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. 

Around 500 million girls and women lack access to adequate facilities to manage their periods.

95% of girls in Ghana sometimes miss school when they are menstruating.