“No one ever talked to me properly about menstrual hygiene when I was younger. There was no education on the topic at school. My first period was very scary — I passed out”
Everyday, roughly 800 million girls and women around the world have their period.
However, in some parts of the world, this normal bodily function is viewed as taboo and the consequences of that — from the loss of educational and economic opportunities, to social exclusion and a number of possible health complications — are potentially dire.
A topic like menstruation is met with silence in many parts of the world. More than half of all girls have no knowledge of what is happening to their body during their first period, and as many as one in four girls will not attend school due to menstruation.
It is only with the knowledge of what menstruation entails, and how to manage it hygienically, that girls can act accordingly and take charge of themselves.
In light of these challenges Common Goal teamed up with WASH United in 2018 to develop, test, and implement a Menstrual Hygiene Management Education Guide — originally in India in partnership with Slum Soccer.
This project became one of the Common Goal signature projects and this year saw the implementation in this year’s East Africa Festival in the Busia District of Eastern Uganda — where a network of streetfootballworld organisations from across East Africa as well as coaches, young people, and dignitaries gathered to celebrate the importance of football on and off the pitch
With a MHM working running during the festival, this year we caught up with some of the organisers and participants.
Mina: “No one ever talked to me properly about menstrual hygiene when I was younger. There was no education on the topic at school. My first period was very scary — I passed out.
“It was very confusing. I want to teach girls they don’t have to isolate themselves during menstruation.
“They can tackle the reality properly without embarrassment, without missing school, while managing it comfortably and hygienically. Changing the perception of menstruation is vital. The moment we think of it as normal, the problems faced because of menstruation will stop.”
Ackissah: “When I started menstruation I had no information about it. I was sad and shocked. I did not know anything about how to deal with menstruation, from reusable pads to hygiene.
“I can be a part of the change. I can help girls that are in the same situation as I was. I want to give girls the confidence to understand that a period is a normal thing and that it is ok to talk about it.”
Ines: “In my country, the DRC, the question about menstruation is very very taboo. Young girls don’t know how to manage a period.
“When we did some studies, we found that when girls get pregnant early it is often because they donʼt know about periods or how to manage them. It is important to break the taboo and help these girls.”
Berna: “My understanding about menstruation was vague and when I experienced it, I thought it would be ok as long as nobody knew. I want to teach MHM because I feel pain when my students say they canʼt play football when they are menstruating. I want to give the girls more confidence to know that it is ok to play sport when they are menstruating, and not to feel ashamed.”
Ina, Master Trainer of the MHM workshop during the Festival: “The taboo, lack of hygienic management, and the little education that women have around their bodies — that really motivated me to do this.”
What is a Common Goal Signature Project?
Common Goal members pledge a minimum of 1% of their football earnings with which they can support specific organisations from a particular region or addressing a specific topic that is close to their hearts; or support Common Goal Signature Projects, which aligns several players behind high-impact initiatives that involve the expertise of several organisations.
The Common Goal Signature Projects emphasise the importance of collective power to achieve social change and draw their effectiveness from the collaboration of experts within the field.