CARE fights against the Period Taboo around the world!

For millions of women and girls, having their period is more like a fight for their dignity than a natural cycle. Dropping out of school, health risks, social exclusion, they suffer the consequences of a taboo that must be broken. In 90 countries around the world, CARE is working with communities to change social norms so women can have their periods with dignity. Here is a couple of our actions!

Shelin, 13, shows off the reusable sanitary napkins she learned to make with CARE at her school in Zimbabwe. © CARE

Fight against the stigmatization of girls and women with information

In many countries, social norms play an important role in the stigma women and girls experience during their periods.

Having your period is something completely natural, yet too many girls and women feel ashamed. Out of fear of being teased if they stain their clothes and out of shame, many young girls do not go to school when they have their period, sometimes causing them to drop out of school altogether. 

  • In Rwanda, Nepal and India, for example, CARE is working to change attitudes and fight against beliefs that women are impure during their period.
  • In the Balkans, CARE has set up clubs in schools to promote equality between girls and boys and fight against gender stereotypes.

Silence and bans limit women's and girls' access to relevant information about their bodies and periods.

  • That's why around the world, such as in Burundi or India, CARE is helping schools set up sexual and reproductive health classes for girls and boys. We also sensitize adult women and men to these issues.  

Provide access to appropriate menstrual hygiene

CARE conducts awareness sessions against the period taboo. Here in Vanuatu. © CARE

Access to healthy hygiene protection remains a privilege granted to few women in the world.  These products are often very expensive and difficult to find in many parts of the world.

Poverty is therefore a factor that puts women's health at risk. In many countries, women use worn pieces of cloth, blankets or clothing as sanitary napkins.

  • CARE distributes hygiene kits to women and girls, in Vanuatu and Indonesia in particular. These kits include washable and reusable sanitary napkins, underwear, soap and laundry.
  • In order to guarantee good hygiene conditions for women and girls,  our teams train schoolchildren in Nepal, Malawi or Zimbabwe, for example, in the manufacture of reusable sanitary napkins. Similarly, in the Democratic Republic of Congo or Madagascar, we are forming groups of women who can then sell sanitary napkins in order to improve their income.

For women in emergency situations, such as refugees, access to sanitary protection is even more difficult.

  • In Uganda, for example, CARE works in refugee camps by distributing menstrual cups to women and girls.  Clean and economical, the cups are reusable for up to 10 years and require less water than reusable towels. 

Provide everyone with clean and safe sanitation facilities

Shangurai (38) is a CARE trained toilet builder in Chivi District, rural Zimbabwe. Through training, she has been able to not only construct the toilets but educate those around her about health and hygiene benefits of a built latrine.

Globally, one in three women does not have access to a clean, working toilet. The lack of privacy, access to water and soap prevent them from having adequate personal hygiene.

What is more, this lack of infrastructure is one of the main causes of school dropouts for girls when they have their period.

  • In Zimbabwe, for example, we train masons, especially women, to build family toilets. These latrines thus bring dignity to people, allow girls and women to guarantee good hygiene during their period and help fight water-borne diseases.
  • In Vanuatu, Mali and Haiti in particular, CARE is building clean and safe toilets and water access systems in schools. 

Our actions are manifold because we must tackle all the causes and consequences of the period taboo so that things change in a lasting way. Through these actions, our ambition is to break down prejudices, to allow each girl and woman to live her period in all serenity, and without danger to her health.

We will achieve this thanks to the mobilization of everyone to make this subject a priority!