I have always loved the Eleanor Roosevelt quote “Well behaved women rarely make history.” I have not led my life with the intent of making history and having my name in lights. I have no false hopes of changing the entire world. But, Eleanor Roosevelt’s words have always given me permission to be loud, share my opinions unapologetically and attempt to positively influence those who are still finding their voice. Right now her words are being shared with our girls in Ngangifisa. One of them just might make history.
1 in 10 girls in Africa miss school because of their period. Why? For many the cost of feminine products is equivalent to an entire day’s salary. There is also the stigma due to ridiculous superstitions in many tribal cultures that date back centuries. These narratives paint women who menstruate as unclean or impure. Some cultures go as far as banishing girls to menstrual huts, far removed from their community, for the duration of their period. Our girls are not banished, but many use a communal toilet which affords them no privacy. Can you imagine?
We have to provide resources and better health education. Girls can not stay home and miss 20% of the school year. Our girls must get an education to break the cycle of poverty. Thanks to organizations like Project Dignity change is happening. They have empowered our girls and others to reach their full potential. They are educating them on their bodies and the harm in using less safe and less absorbent materials like rags, paper or bark to manage their period. They gifted all the girls in Ngangifisa with one of their kits of re-usable sanitary pads and panties. There is no more embarrassment or lack of supplies. If we raise the girls up, we raise the whole community.
We just celebrated International Women’s Day. A day that’s sole purpose is to eliminate discrimination against women and help them gain equal participation in global development. True equality is never going to happen if we are making 131 million girls around the world feel shame because they are a woman and get their period.
How is this still a topic in 2019? Maybe because this is not what most would consider a “well behaved” conversation. No one wants to discuss this reality. It isn’t a pretty or a polite dinner topic. But we promised the children of Ngangifisa food and emotional support, and our girls need to be supported in this area. They will be able to openly have these conversations, ask us questions and not be afraid of who they are. It’s a good thing me and the women who are the backbone of Ngangifisa are not afraid to behave badly.
To help ensure our girls stay in school and build up their community, donate now.