May 28 marks the Global Menstrual Hygiene Day. In pursuit of the global advocacy on the occasion, The Red Elephant Foundation, LEPA Initiative and Tale Weavers are curating range of stories and photos to map a global essay called “NoMoreWhispers,” which is our flagship campaign to dismantle the shame and silence around menstruation.
In most parts of the world, ignorance and fear tend to result in discriminatory treatment of women. Most women don’t have access to menstrual products because of these factors, and in the places that they do have access to it, a culture of shame keeps them from reaching out to get it. Speaking about the gap that we have identified in our work, Deborah Dauda, volunteer of the Red Elephant Foundation and founder of our partner initiative, LEPA Initiative, explains, “Whether during peacetime or wartime, young people should have full access to information and resources that will help them make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. Menstruation is such an important milestone in the lives of many all over the world, and It is a privilege to work with REF on #NoMoreWispers to dismantle the silence surrounding menstruation.”
We have invited people of all gender identities, from any part of the world, of any age, to share stories of their first menstruation and also invited submissions of people with a picture of themselves with a menstrual hygiene product – a pad, a cloth pad, a tampon, a menstrual cup – or all! Explaining the campaign, Sharda Vishwanathan, Co-Founder of Tale Weavers and Chief Operations Officer at The Red Elephant Foundation says,
“‘Whispers’ is what one often associates menstruation with. There is a lot of ignorance around this subject which perpetuates myths about periods and results in the lack of awareness on menstrual hygiene and associated care practices. Our campaign aims to break this silence and emphasizes on how the socio-cultural taboos around menstruation and lack of healthcare support and services impact the lives of girls and women.”
In addition, we have also curated some empowering interviews of people working in the domain of sustainable menstruation, and have created two simple handbooks on menstrual hygiene and care. Nanditha Ravindar, who curated the two handbooks along with other volunteers, explains:
“Menstruation isn’t a choice but a natural biological process that women go through. It is high time people started opening up and discussing menstruation in order to break the stigma and taboo attached to it. While we are at it, we should also ensure that men are included in this dialogue and are sensitised about menstrual issues.”
Kirthi Jayakumar, the Founder and CEO of the Red Elephant Foundation explained:
“Menstrual hygiene is a constant priority world over. With the piling up of bio waste and challenges to the environment, it is vital that we turn to sustainable menstruation options through the use of organic products and alternative hygiene disposal mechanisms. No More Whispers is an attempt to break open the conversations that can create pathways towards sustainable menstruation.”