Remember stuffing tampons up your sleeve when you had to rush to the toilet on your period? Or better yet, hiding sanitary towels in your pocket? Yup. Seems everyone in school (and even at work!) on their period is still doing it.
Periods might be getting some much needed PR with New Zealand and Scotland distributing free period products, but the stigma and shame around menstruation is still prevalent around the world. This starts right from the moment we get our menses. Let’s face it, puberty is tough, but periods make them tougher.
If you're reading this, chances are you're period-privileged. Listen, learn and take action.
I am period-privileged
I started my period at 12 years old. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home where periods were normal to talk about and sanitary towels, tampons and pain medication were available.
Period-privilege simply means you have easy, regular access to all the things that make mensuration bearable: pads, tampons, menstrual cups, liners, pain medication, heating pads, new underwear, birth control and comfort food. If you're reading this, chances are you're period-privileged too, but the same can't be said for everyone. It's time to listen, learn and take action.
Remember that these ongoing conversations are just the first step on a long journey, we need to be willing to engage in uncomfortable discussions about a person’s right over their own body; including the right information and about their preferred choice of menstrual absorbent.
These ongoing conversations are just the first step on a long journey, we need to be willing to engage in uncomfortable discussions about a person’s right over their own body
Introducing the Yarn for Menstrual Health campaign
In June 2020, Kenya media exploded with a disturbing story: close to 4,000 school girls in just one county were impregnated during COVID-19 lockdown. There are many factors that contributed to these numbers, one of which is the lack of knowledge about periods.
Conversations at home about menstrual health are murky with no one really talking about what is happening. Like most Kenyans, as alarming as these numbers were, I talked about them and then quickly forgot amid all the other challenges we were facing.
Then came Haseeta’s interview for my Shuhuda series in December 2020. Haseeta is a Kenyan knitter and crocheter who runs a Facebook group that makes items for donation all over Kenya. She kicked off a menstrual health campaign in October 2020. Her goal is to create awareness regarding the unhygienic circumstances most school girls across Kenya endure during their menses. She along with the ladies in her group had pledged to make 1,000 hats to be distributed by the African Girl Foundation where they distribute their menstrual packs to various schools in 2021.
Those 4,000 girls came to mind again, and I decided to offer suggestions and help with the campaign. This is when the Yarn for Menstrual Health Campaign was born.
The yarn for menstrual health campaign is an initiative run by Haseeta together with Morine’s Shop and the African Girl Foundation. Our aim is to normalize conversations on menstrual health. Similarly, we are raising funds to equip everyone in need with reusable sanitary kits. Each kit goes for $10 and consists of 4 reusable pads and washing soap to last an entire year!
Menstrual hygiene is access to products and amenities used during menses. Menstrual health is a broader term used to describe both menstrual hygiene and the interventions that link menstruation to other factors. These include health, wellbeing, gender, education, equality, empowerment and rights.
How can you take part?
1. Use #YarnForMenstrualHealth
- Crochet or Knit a maroon or red hat
- Take a photo of yourself wearing the hat and share it on social media
- Share your menstrual health journey or what you would like to improve regarding menstrual health using #YarnForMenstrualHealth in your caption
- Provide a link to this post so others can read about the campaign
Periods are not a choice and neither should the knowledge about them be.
2. Sign up to keep the conversation going
I’ve made a google sheet where people wishing to get an assigned date can register. To clarify, anyone can take part in the campaign. This sign up sheet is just to ensure that the conversation keeps going every single day! We’re raising awareness friends! As you know with most campaigns that go on for some time, morale can get low. With people talking about menstrual health for the duration of the campaign, we hope to keep the conversation going, during and even after the campaign.
Donations are voluntary and every donation counts! Although 1 kit goes for $10, there is no restriction to the amount one can donate. All donations go directly to the African Girl Foundation. You can also pledge a portion of your sales. If you make a pledge, please honour it. Thank you.
4. Sponsor the event
Our efforts to raise funds would go even further with you as a sponsor. In this role, you or your business could provide a donation amount. The amount is completely up to you.
If you or your business are interested in becoming a sponsor, please get in touch with the African Girl Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Buy a pattern
Morine’s Shop is a sponsor of the campaign. For every crochet beanie pattern purchased below, i.e. the Twist to the Classic & the Peas in a Pod Beanies, $1 will go towards the campaign. Magdalena of Woolly Gear is also a sponsor. All proceeds from the sale of her Tide Beanie pattern from February 2021 to 28th May 2021 go towards raising funds to equip girls with said kits.
Pick the perfect yarn for your beanies!
The conversations will be a win if we use them to ensure that we question the distribution and disappearance of health funds by our governments and demand education about menstruation for people who menstruate.