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Menstruating in Dignity — Breaking the cycle of silence

Menstruating in Dignity — Breaking the cycle of silence

Menstruating in Dignity — Breaking the cycle of silence

In Liberia, approximately 1.2 million women and girls experienced menstruation every 28 days, as per the Liberia Demographics Profile 2021 Report. Yet, thousands of these women and girls grapple with managing their menstrual cycles in a dignified and healthy way. For many, menstruation remains a taboo subject, masked in silence and stigma.

For many girls, the silence around menstruation is causing more harm than good, particularly for young girls like 14-year-old Betty**.

Every month, Betty misses some days of school due to the anxiety of changing sanitary pads in her school’s unisex bathroom, along with the fear that her clothes could become stained while seated in class, leaving her no option but to stay at home during her menstruation.

 “I feel so sad when I miss school because I also miss the lesson of the day,” says Betty.

For countless girls like Betty, the silence and lack of education surrounding menstruation exacerbate inequality among girls and boys. In some instances, menstruating girls are considered unclean and subsequently isolated, leading them to miss school and social activities. This exclusion not only affects their education but also undermines their self-esteem and social development.

Breaking the cycle of silence

To help overcome these challenges, SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia, in collaboration with Spiritan Academy, a Catholic Demonstration school, held a one-day education and awareness session on World Menstrual Hygiene Day.

During this session, Betty bravely broke the silence, engaging in open dialogue with her peers from Spiritan Academy. The interactive discussion shed light on practices and norms around menstruation and menstrual hygiene while dispelling myths and addressing taboos.

“The stigma around menstruation affects our confidence and restricts our opportunities. We need to challenge these taboos that make us feel embarrassed or dirty for something completely natural,” expresses Betty.

For Betty and many of the young girls gathered in the hall, this session provided their first opportunity to openly discuss their menstruation, ask questions, and normalize its presence in their lives.

Breaking the cycle of silence around menstruation is essential for achieving gender equality and enhancing the lives of girls and women. By addressing the cultural, educational, and infrastructural barriers to menstrual health, SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia is helping to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all.

“Menstruation matters. It matters for health, education, dignity, and empowerment. Together, we can break the silence, dispel the myths, and ensure that every girl and woman can manage her period with pride and confidence,” says Miatta Sherman–Jallah, SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia Gender Focus Person.

Written by Joseph Joboe, SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia, Communication, Brand & Advocacy Coordinator