Menstruation and the Public Space.

If this was music…this would be a different genre, a first of its kind. I’m not going to rumble about random things in this one, but it’s something that bothers me quite a lot.

I came across a post on social media calling for articles on menstrual hygiene and there was prize money attached! Who doesn’t want money??? So here I am shooting my shot; but also here I am writing about something I believe needs all our attention, men and women alike. The money will be a plus. Getting this out there is my main objective.

Isn’t it strange that there’s a new trend of supplying condoms in public washrooms; because, well, the need to create awareness on the repercussions of unsafe sex…but nobody has considered placing sanitary towels / liners in female public washrooms? There is a very high chance that that box of condoms in that office block / hotel / mall / nightclub or restaurant washroom will go un-tampered with for say a month or so, but I would like to inform you, that at any one point in that very same month, a woman in that very same space will be on her period.

Why can’t we create an environment that makes menstruation easy to deal with?

Women, by experience will most times be ready for these days, but, not always. Our cycles change due to many reasons and there are times when ‘disaster strikes’ when we least expect it! If one is lucky, they will have another female within the vicinity to help, or they’ll figure it out…we’re ninjas like that. However, what a joy and how comforting it would be if we knew we can always find help in the washroom just down the hall or the public building across the road. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but just enough to ensure she is safe from any embarrassment until she gets a better or preferred alternative.

The Late Dr. Moses Kiiza Musaazi invented the Maka Pads, here in Uganda. A disposable and biodegradable affordable brand of sanitary pads; at the time targeting poor school girls who couldn’t afford the other expensive brands. It was a successful project. I don’t know how it’s doing now, especially since he’s passed on. What if the government, through the Ministry of Health, decided to finance this and ensured that this particular brand of sanitary wear can be made readily available in all public washrooms? This would be a two way win if you ask me. The government will have supported a local business (#BUBU – Buy Uganda Build Uganda) and also, helped promote something very dear to its women – proper menstrual hygiene.

Can we give menstruation this kind of importance and not regard it as some humiliating situation women have to go through every month and as such, cannot be talked about? If we can promote safe sex by supplying condoms in public washrooms, then surely we should promote proper menstrual hygiene, with the same energy.

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