Let's talk about... menstruation

Half of the world's population menstruates. It is a woman's fate to bleed between her legs. Instead of hiding it away and slipping pads into the back pocket on the way to the restroom, let us, in celebration of International Women's Day, honor the blood.

Therefore, Rudolph Care has spoken with three women who talk, write, and act on menstruation and women's behalf. Hooray for them!

Need help to afford pads...? Yes!

Mary Consolata Namagambe was born in Uganda and raised in Denmark. She is behind She for She Pads, a project focused on producing and distributing reusable menstrual pads to women and girls in Uganda. The goal is to ensure that all women can access safe and hygienic menstrual products, regardless of their economic situation. She for She Pads has already donated pads to over 10,000 schoolgirls and women in Uganda. Of course, the dream is that even more schoolgirls can stay in school, even during their menstruation.

The project started because Mary Consolata Namagambe was frustrated that, even though it's 2024, there are still girls who can't go to school and who have to stay indoors while their friends run outside and play when they have their periods simply because their parents cannot afford menstrual products. In Uganda, many people live on less than ten kroner a day, and a pack of pads costs around 1 EUR. According to UNICEF, one in ten African girls skip school during menstruation in Uganda. This amounts to a loss of eight to 24 school days per year, representing up to 11% of a girl's learning period in a year.

"The She for She Pads project is very important to me because I believe that no woman or girl should suffer during menstruation due to a lack of access to products. Something as natural as menstruation should not prevent girls from going to school, playing, or just being themselves. It's about giving women dignity, self-respect, and the opportunity to fully participate in society without being limited by menstruation," says Mary Consolata Namagambe.

"I hope that She for She Pads can help break the taboo around menstruation, create greater awareness about women's rights and health, and give women and girls the opportunity to pursue their dreams without interruptions. Menstruation is a natural and normal part of a woman's life. Half the world experiences it. It is crucial to understand, respect, and support women in this process without shame or taboo."

What is your main message when it comes to talking about menstruation?

"That openness about menstruation is crucial. Let's create an environment where women can safely share their experiences and needs and where society supports them with respect and understanding. It is also essential to acknowledge and share our privileges with women who do not have the same access to resources. None of us in Denmark have experienced missing work, school, football, or a concert due to a lack of menstrual products. Therefore, we should wish the same for women worldwide."

Let's read and talk about blood

Jette Sandbæk and Louise T. Sjørvad have written the book It's Just Blood - Your First (Book About) Menstruation. It is a non-fiction book for children aged ten and up. But it’s not a boring non-fiction book. The book is filled with personal advice and stories from other children and young people who honestly share how they experience menstruation. There are also plenty of facts about the body that not only children but also adults may be surprised by, and the book is filled with explanatory illustrations and pictures of, surprise, blood.

The two women made the book because it was missing. They searched and searched among books about dinosaurs and football players, but a book about menstruation for children and young people has yet to appear. So they had to write it themselves. They got the idea for the book shortly after Annika Aakjær performed her menstruation song at the Zulu Comedy Gala. It was the first time in their lives they had heard someone speak so honestly and in detail about menstruation. It had something. They could use it for something.

"While we have been making the book, we have also been repeatedly confirmed that it was needed to destigmatize menstruation among children and young people. We have spoken with many children where menstruation is a big concern and where they are worried about leaking through. It is tough for those among the first in the class to get their periods. They are very alone with it and try to hide it to a large extent. We don't think children should walk around feeling ashamed or wrong because they have menstruation. It's completely natural. That's why we have also created teaching material for the book that teachers and health visitors can use for the first conversation about menstruation as early as 2nd grade," said Jette Sandbæk and Louise T. Sjørvad.

"Menstruation affects half of the world's population, and insight into each other's lives and bodies creates a better understanding of each other. This applies to all genders."

What is your most important message when it comes to talking about menstruation?

"Be proud of your body. It's pretty cool, all the things it can do. Talk to each other about menstruation and understand what happens in the body during a cycle. Knowing what happens in one's body gives a lot of power."