Seven 8th graders at Bronx Prep Middle School in New York have just won the grand prize in the first annual NPR Student Podcast Challenge with their entry Sssh! Periods.  According to their podcast, sixty-seven percent of the female students polled at their school said that they feel uncomfortable discussing their periods.  Lamented one of the students involved in the podcast, “young girls carry this stigma into adulthood.” These young creatives met weekly to write, record, and edit their podcast which shares their point of view and sheds light on a subject they noticed was being hidden instead of openly addressed.  As one of the teens said, that “sucks because it’s something so natural and so normal.”

International Women’s Menstrual Hygiene Day 

This winning podcast is timely, as just around the corner on May 28 is International Women’s Menstrual Hygiene Day organized to help build awareness about the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management plays in enabling women to reach their full potential.  One of the goals is to also raise awareness in boys and men, so that they can openly discuss menstrual health and support the needs of their female family members.

MH Day Supporters have a vision “to create a world in which every woman and girl is empowered to manage her menstruation safely, hygienically, with confidence and without shame, where no woman or girl is limited by something as natural and normal as her period.” Their mission is to “break the silence, raise awareness and change negative social norms surrounding menstrual health management around the world, AND to engage decision-makers at global, national and local levels to increase the political priority for menstrual health management and catalyze action.”

The MH Day website has a wealth of excellent resource materials, in numerous languages that can help parents, teachers and health advocates to learn more and open the dialogue about a subject that affects everyone.  The website also highlights the events happening worldwide on MH Day including educational seminars, art exhibits, sewing collaborations, road rallies, and free giveaways of reusable pads. Last year, 503 events in 71 countries celebrated MH Day through educational events in schools, community rallies and concerts.

 Days for Girls Is Helping In Washington

Numerous non-profits have proliferated worldwide to help address this fundamental cause.  One of the most successful non-profits is Days for Girls International, headquartered in Bellingham, Washington.  Days for Girls helps organize volunteers to create reusable sustainable menstruation kits for distribution to girls in countries where menstrual products are not available or affordable. To date this organization has distributed 1.6 million kits to girls from 127 different countries, reaching all 7 continents. Days for Girls also has a successful campaign to create local enterprises in numerous countries that are now making their own kits. The Days for Girls has documented the impact they have accomplished by providing basic menstrual hygiene education and products to girls worldwide; improving health, eliminating shame, and enabling girls to continue their education.

Another remarkable non-profit called “Period” has 475 chapters on college campuses and high schools across America, with a mission to make menstrual products free and easily accessible as a necessary health product. Period is also supporting legislation to reclassify menstrual products as essential instead of luxury goods in order to eliminate taxes.  Women spend upwards of $70 a year on menstrual products and use as many as 16,000 tampons in a lifetime, according to Period Equity, a national group that advocates for tax-free menstrual products. Currently, 14 states don't tax menstrual products, including five states that have passed laws to eliminate such taxes: Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Nevada and New York. Bills are pending in several other states to change their tax laws, including three bills currently pending Washington: SB 5206, SB 5147, HB 1053. To support the bill contact your state legislator here.

Divorced Parents Resources for Teenage Daughters

Divorced couples with communication issues are bound to find it difficult to share responsibility for the health and wellness issues faced by their teenage daughters.  Having a plan to deal with a daughter’s first period is essential, including having menstrual hygiene supplies stocked in both households, and having resources ready to share that normalize the changes children experience as their bodies grow through adolescence.  The family law lawyers at Molly B. Kenny, LLC, help divorcing couples build the communication skills necessary to address the health concerns of their children.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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