#MenstruationMatters to Diva International Inc.

The month of May is a favourite at Diva International Inc. for many reasons. The sun is shining, flowers are blooming and it plays host to one of our favourite days: Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD).

Organized by Wash United, and together with close to 300 partners from around the globe, MHD is a global effort to draw attention to the women’s right to hygienically manage their periods, no matter where they live.

Why does it matter?

In other parts of the world, women have very different experiences during their period. Girls and women in developing countries miss 20 percent of their education or work because they are unable to attend while they are menstruating. This can be due to insufficient water and sanitation facilities, poor access to menstrual materials and a lack of menstrual hygiene education.

In order to change the attitudes surrounding menstrual hygiene management (MHM), there needs to be education. However, in many countries menstruation is still considered taboo and many women are left in the dark about what is happening to their bodies and how they can manage their cycle.

Did You Know…

  • 83% of girls in Burkina Faso and 77% in Niger have no place at school to change their sanitary menstrual materials.
  • Many women and girls use unsanitary materials such as old rags, husks, dried leaves, grass, ash, sand or newspapers because they do not have access to affordable, hygienic and safe resources.
  • By the time a girl finishes grade 8, she will already have missed up to 30 weeks of school.MHD
  • Commercial menstrual pads can be too expensive for low-income girls and women to afford. In Mukuru, Nairobi many girls aged 10?19 have reported having sex with older men to pay for basic items, such as pads.
  • In one study by HERProject, 73% of the Bangladeshi garment workers they interviewed miss work for an average of 6 days per month (resulting in unpaid work days) due to vaginal infections caused by unsanitary menstrual materials.
  • 48 % of girls in Iran and 10 % of girls in India believe that menstruation is a disease.
  • Chhaupadi’, a practice that forces menstruating women and girls to sleep in separate huts or sheds (and subjects them to other harsh restrictions) is still widely observed in many rural areas.
  • In Western parts of Uganda, country cattle owners do not let menstruating women attend to their cows for fear that the milk may turn bloody.

Changing the Future for Women

While many of these facts are surprising, organizations and individuals are working to create a unified voice for women and girls around the world to break the silence surrounding MHM.

For example:

  • Looking at current market trends, more and more women in developing countries are getting access to hygienic menstrual products.
  • The Kenyan government will spend over USD $2 million to provide pads to 678,770 disadvantaged school girls and Kenya eliminated the import tax on menstrual products in 2011 to reduce costs.
  • Many NGOs & social businesses are making enormous progress on delivering menstrual hygiene education
  • There are many men working to de-stigmatize and break the silence around menstruation by advocating for improved MHM.

Get Involved!

You can get involved in MHD by sharing the many resources put together by the team at WASH United. Share the MHD infographic and #MenstruationMatters sign to your Facebook or Twitter profile, or attend an event! You can also show your support beyond MHD, whether financially or through your time, by giving to one of the incredible organizations who are helping to provide women and girls with accessible and affordable menstrual hygiene products.

diva500-2What we are doing to help?

At Diva International Inc., MHM means a lot to us and we believe that all women deserve to manage their period safely and with dignity. That is why, in recognition of Menstrual Hygiene Day, Diva International Inc. is partnering with Lunapads and their One4Her program, committing to donating an AFRIPad kit (complete with 5 pads and 1 carrying bag) to the girls and women of Pader Girls Academy for every DivaCup sold on Lunapads.com during the month of May.

Help us reach our goal of distributing 500 kits; purchase The DivaCup today to help support girls’ and women’s futures around the world!

 

 

Reference Guide: All facts were drawn from the Menstrual Hygiene Day Fact Sheets produced by WASH United. View them here.

 

Diary of a Diva: On being a traveling Diva in the desert!

Leticia.N.3Traveling with a bunch of guys through the Baja peninsula on motorbikes involved plenty of preparation for our first foray into off-road adventure touring. We had a checklist of bare essentials to pack for the adventure, including first-aid kit, cooking gear, tools, spare tubes, oil filters, tents, surfboards, camera gear, etc. And while these items were at the forefront of my mind, as a female, naturally I had to consider feminine hygiene products for the duration of our trip, which was going to be at least three months, of which most time would be spent in remote locations among desert landscapes and stretches of rugged coastline.

I’ve always been very selective when it comes to my preferred choice of tampons and having traveled in Mexico before, I knew the selection was limited at best and I’d be forced to take enough to see me through the trip. Maximizing what limited space a motorbike affords meant that carrying enough tampons for each period and having them take up precious space just for that “time of the month” did not appeal to my sense of efficiency. Given that we would be traveling to remote areas where we would have to take all rubbish with us, or burn what we could, the idea of carrying used tampons until we found the next rubbish bin or killing the ambiance by throwing them onto the campfire were equally unappealing to me.

Faced with this dilemma that the boys didn’t have to consider on their list of things to pack, I mentioned it to my very resourceful, environmentally conscious friend who simply asked, “Why don’t you just use The DivaCup?”. Her casual tone gave me the impression that to her, it was such an obvious choice, that I hadn’t even considered.

Leticia.N.2I think I surprised her more when I responded by asking, “What’s The DivaCup?

Like most devotees, my friend quickly shed some light on the subject for me, praising it for the ease of use, practicality and the obvious benefits regarding its environmental impact. I don’t consider myself to be an ignorant person and yet my oblivion to the existence of menstrual cups demonstrated that I’d been living under a proverbial rock all these years! I didn’t need any more convincing, I was sold on this revolutionary product and thought it was the perfect opportunity to make the switch from tampons to The DivaCup.

As strange as it may sound, I was looking forward to my next period and getting to try out The DivaCup for the first time. When the time came, we were camping in Northern Baja amidst a cacti forest as far as the eye could see and although there was no power or internet, the echoes of all The DivaCup blog posts I’d read online came flooding back to me and I couldn’t agree more with all the women who’d attested to its ease of use and comfort. I’ve always been fortunate that my period is quite light and relatively brief in duration, (which can be uncomfortable with tampons at times) and I was so happy to learn that The DivaCup perfectly accommodates my flow. I was also stoked that desert disposal simply involved digging a hole to pour into before burying it back up—quick and easy, while also making me feel good about minimizing my carbon footprint.

Suffice to say that I am well and truly converted to the way of The DivaCup! It’s crazy to think it’s been around for so many years, and yet it was only at age 31 that I came to know of it, but as they say, better late than never.

I’m still traveling through Mexico and The DivaCup continues to be an integral part of my journey. I look forward to being an unofficial advocate for this amazing little product and encouraging other women to get on the Diva bandwagon!

Leticia N.

Leticia.N.1Leticia is a free-spirited outdoor enthusiast who loves nothing better than living a simple life where the natural world lies at the core of all the things that make her truly happy. She is happiest when her time is spent surfing, traveling the world, laughing, snowboarding, making music, creating, cooking, getting into discussions about amazing food, spending quality time with family and friends and her beautiful and inspiring partner, Gary. Although Leticia works as a freelance writer and has dabbled in secondary teaching in the past, her goal is to create a utopian creative space where she can combine all of her passions and surround herself with other people who also aspire to living a creative and fulfilling life. You can follow her journey on her shared blog, The Howling Sea.