“I march because I want to raise importance of proper management of the maturation period including menstrual hygiene 4 girls”
I am a professional nurse born and working in Rwanda. Presently working part time at the southern cross (women's) hospital in Kigali, I have worked in government health centers in the country side of Kigali. In my career spanning more than 10 years, I have noted with concern that menstruation -a natural part of the functioning of a woman's body is often times ignored or mismanaged by women -much to our individual and collective embarrassment. Girls commonly get their menses in total surprise and bewilderment-becoming a laughing stock of the male counterparts many girls develop a mental scar which takes years or never to go away. The cause of this scenario is that in Africa, discussing matters related to sex and reproduction is considered way out of the norm. Mothers will rarely introduce the topic to a daughter as she is being over protective and doesn't want the girls "to learn adult things too early" The father -too often revered and feared is considered way above "women talk" So bang- for almost every girl child, she learns from peers who may not be any more informed. Experimental sex, and a host of myths surround menses. For adult women, discussing this with her spouse is equally a no go area -and kept to a minimum owing to the secrecy around this from child hood. Women too often ignore or mismanage hygiene of the menstruation period. Given many women are dependent on the partner, the woman has to ask for money to purchase pads or get extra water during that critical time. Imagine a man who feels burdened providing food , a child's school needs and rent for that small apartment! he is enraged when a woman becomes "extravagant" as to ask for trivial things like pads! Many women have got a rough beating for squandering money on personal things. Domestic violence remains a reality for most women in Rwanda.
I mobilized women to start a group- Kigali Women Association for Health and Livelihoods (KWAHELI). Please support us to march on international menstrual day.