I was a mere 12 years old when I got my first period. Scared and confused, yet somewhat prepared, I was lucky enough to have a family that was open and transparent about the changes my body would go through. At the time, I thought nothing of it, not realising this transparency was a privilege only a certain few could afford.
The unfortunate truth is that 44% of girls are unaware of what is happening to them when they experience their first period.
Learning about your body and the changes that will take place in adolescence is essential to understanding and dealing with these very changes. If these changes are not explained properly, they can lead to uniform and potentially harmful consequences.
We often talk about educating our children, but shouldn’t we educate them about their own bodies first so that they can be safe and prepared for when puberty arrives?
Of course, some cultures, livelihoods and parental opinions would categorise these topics as “taboo” or unholy, these conversations are ones that should have a place in every household, as they can eradicate these notions of shame and disgust.
But why is this so important?
Imagine the fear of a twelve-year-old child who has no prior knowledge of what is going to happen to their body, and their confusion and shock when these changes start to reveal themselves over time. Armed with little to no biological and sanitation knowledge on how to deal with, and take care of these changes hygienically, these confused children resort to unhygienic habits, ignoring the sanitation and biological needs their changing bodies now demand.
We see this trend rise especially in young girls that are uneducated about menstrual hygiene, and who continue to use rags that aren't washed properly. Of course, to these girls, this is the norm, as no one has taught them otherwise. These girls now unwillingly, and more importantly, unknowingly, put themselves at risk of many diseases, some fatal enough to cause death.
Imagine if this very girl had been informed beforehand that women from the ages of 9-15 start to menstruate, and that it's important to take care of your body while it menstruates, by nourishing it and taking care of it. Imagine if this girl had the knowledge to prioritise sanitation and hygiene during these times, and took the initiative to implement these changes in response to her changing body.
Providing young girls with accurate information about menstruation not only ensures their physical well-being but also promotes gender equality and empowerment. It enables them to understand and take charge of their bodies, make informed decisions, and advocate for their rights and needs.
Written by: Aarushi patel
Edited by: Jiya Chhugera
Photo by: freepik