Jan
21

How Menstruation Keeps Girls Out of School

Posted by in Health, International

Three young Nepalese girls

For many women and girls in Nepal, menstruation can make education–and personal safety–difficult.
Image: Det-anan / Shutterstock.com

For many of us, getting our periods may be a little annoying, but it’s also considered a normal part of life. For millions around the world, though, getting a period every month can have serious consequences for school, jobs, and even health and personal safety.

In Nepal, for example, about 30% of girls miss school every month due to their periods, according to Her Turn. And UNICEF reports that 95% of girls surveyed in mid- and far western Nepal have to deal with some sort of restriction when they’re menstruating, due in large part to a tradition called chaupadi, which, depending on the culture, can mean women aren’t allowed to touch men, read books, or even sleep or eat in the same place as the rest of the family. In fact, many women are forced to stay in a shed during their periods, which means no heating during the winter, potential animal attacks, and even asphyxiation and burns due to trying to build fires in small spaces. Nepal’s Supreme Court ruled chaupadi illegal in 2005, but it’s still practiced in many places.

Even in places where chaupadi isn’t a tradition, girls still face challenges with menstruation because the facilities in their schools aren’t private or sanitary. Girls use newspaper, leaves, or even sand and ash instead of sanitary pads or tampons, simply because they don’t have access to or education about anything better!

And sure, skipping school might sound great, but it can have negative results in the future. The Girl Effect found that an additional year of primary school education can boost girls’ income from 10-20%. And an additional year of secondary school can raise it another 15-25%!

Taking all of this into account, several organizations got together last November to lead a discussion on menstruation and its effects on menstruation. Using the hashtag #PointPeriod, Her Turn and the Day of the Girl Summit asked and answered questions about the issue, hoping to raise awareness. It’s definitely worth checking out!