Actress Meghan Markle is adding her voice to those of
women speaking out about the need to abolish period
stigma around the world.
The “Suits” star recounted her experience visiting with
young women in India in an eye-opening essay for Time.
She wrote that a lack of menstrual health education and
resources greatly impacts a young woman’s ability to not
only succeed in school, but to stay in school.
“One hundred and thirteen million adolescent girls between the
ages 12-14 in India alone are at risk of dropping out of school
because of the stigma surrounding menstrual health,” she
wrote.
That stigma makes dropping out of school seem like the
more appealing option: “Many girls shared that they feel
embarrassed to go to school during their periods, ill equipped
with rags instead of pads, unable to participate in sports and
without bathrooms available to care for themselves.”
It’s not just India, of course. In Malawi, parents don’t talk to
children about their menstrual cycles. According to a UNICEF
study, 48 percent of girls in Iran believe that menstruation
“is a disease.” Some girls lack facilities with running water,
or ways to dispose of menstrual waste.
Though it’s less severe, the taboo surrounding
periods impacts us here in the United States, too, including
absenteeism. Recognizing that periods are costly and low-
income women and families have to prioritize spending,
legislation was passed in New York City in 2016 to provide
free pads and tampons to the city’s prisons, schools and
shelters.
“We need to push the conversation, mobilize policy-making
surrounding menstrual health initiatives, support
organizations who foster girls’ education from the ground up,
and within our own homes, we need to rise above our
puritanical bashfulness when it comes to talking about
menstruation,” Markle argued.
The 35-year-old is regularly involved in humanitarian work,
serving as a global ambassador for Global Vision, which
provides access to clean water, and as an advocate for UN
Women. While most headlines have been focused on her
relationship with Prince Harry, hopefully her essay can
move bigger, more important conversations forward, too.

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