Recently, I listened to a Ted Talk as I went for my weekly shopping trip. As I wandered around, trying to find biscuits and chocolate on sale, a woman talked about the taboos of menstruation in her home country of India. She talked about how she had to use a rag instead of pads or tampons, and the limitations that were placed on her when she was on her period.
Ted Talks are amazing resources, if you didn’t already know. We may all joke about them, but they’re informative in a way I previously didn’t realise they could be.
For example, in that talk, I learned about Menstrupedia.
Menstrupedia is an online website which doubles as a “friendly guide to periods” for “girls and women to stay healthy and active during their periods”. The woman who led the talk, Aditi Gupta, is also the founder alongside her partner Tuhin Paul, who drew and created the comic.
What they created wasn’t just an online website – they created a learning resource for young girls to become interested and aware about menstruation and the changes within their body. Together, they created a comic book, in their words: “One book every girl must read before she turns 9”.
This comic book outlines and details the lives of three young girls, one who has not yet had a period, one who begins to have them during the narrative of the comic, and one who has already started. The comic is based off of the experiences of other girls and women that Aditi Gupta spoke with and learnt from, to give young girls a better understanding of what was to come, and how others have had to cope.
I’ll be honest, I’m reading through the comic as I write this, and I actually knew so little of this information. And if I, in modern day Britain, who has been learning sex education since I was ten years old, didn’t know this – what hope do the young girls in rural India have?
This comic is used by more than 60 schools, 15 NGOs, and 30,000 girls across India.
That is astounding.
Not only that, but it’s relevant to people in first world countries, too. It’s relevant to us, who have internet connections and aisles for feminine hygiene products in supermarkets and the ability to buy them without being shunned for it.
Menstrupedia’s online website is broken down into sections, where you can learn about different things relating to the female body and its developments – this includes puberty (information for male puberty, too), menstruation (and an introduction to the female reproductive system), hygiene (such as disposal and menstrual cup use), and myths about it all (such as it is possible to get pregnant whilst menstruating – which is something even I, with my modern British education, didn’t actually know).
And this website isn’t just for girls. There are comments sections and places where you can ask questions, many of which are filled with discussions of the safety and stigma of masturbation, as well as help for men who are having issues with puberty, also. There is content out there, and it’s so necessary to be educated on different sexes and their bodies, in this day and age.
I know that Monday Good News should have news that is inherently good. I know that from old pieces, such as Bolivia eradicating illiteracy, and teenage scientific excellence. So, whilst this article is also telling you about the fact that so many people don’t know about menstrual health, I’m also trying to tell you that there is help for that – even if, right now, it’s not global. We can all be a part of teaching young girls about their health, and we can all give help where it’s needed.
These people are trying to bring the knowledge and the help to girls across India and other, less privileged countries, and they’re doing some amazing work, so I believe we should all consider supporting.
Even if you can’t give, letting people know about this is as easy as clicking the “share” button.
Be safe, be educated, and don’t let myths about menstruation make you feel inadequate for experiencing it.
You can find out more about Bethany on her author page.