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Periods are a part of a woman’s natural monthly menstrual cycle. Women make up 49.58% of the world’s population, give or take. This means that approximately 50% of the world’s population experiences menstruation on a monthly basis for the majority of their life - from puberty until menopause.
One would think that since half of the people around the world menstruate, it must be the topic of discussion in public settings such as schools and people would know about what menstruation is and how to deal with it, especially women. However, that is not the case, sadly.
In 2017, UNICEF conducted a nationwide poll in Islamabad and reported that 49% of the total respondents of the poll had no idea about menstruation until they finally got their first period.
After the UNICEF report of 2017, Superwomen.pk decided to do a little survey of their own to assess the level of awareness about periods. We asked the women of Pakistan to share the stories of their first period. Out of all the women who came forward with their stories, 68.4% had no prior knowledge about periods. About 21% of the women had heard about periods from friends or cousins, but they too, only had a vague idea and were not prepared to deal with periods by the time they got their first one.
Let's dive into some first period experiences shared by the women who took part in the survey and see for ourselves. These stories have something to teach us.
The memory of the day you got your first period may become a funny story to tell one day. But the fear and distress a young girl faces in that moment, remains a fact. It is only natural for a school going girl, who does not know what periods are, to panic when she suddenly starts bleeding. When she does not know what is happening and how to deal with it, she can end up compromising her health and hygiene along with risking sickness.
Dear mothers, we urge you to not let your precious daughters become the-first-period-gone-wrong story. Sit with your daughters as soon as they are of age, probably around 12 years old, and walk them through the process of menstruation. This way, when the day comes, your daughters will know what to do and they will be able to handle themselves confidently.
We know you want your little girls to stay your little girls forever, but they are going to grow up anyway! So take their hand and guide them every step of the way as they enter womanhood.
The first superwoman a girl meets in her life, is her mother. Remember to let your daughters in on some secrets to being a superwoman, like how to correctly use menstrual pads and other menstrual and sanitary products.
Right information coming from wrong people in wrong ways can create a lot of confusion in young minds. It might end up scaring them even more or force them into being silent about it. While you teach your daughters all about the technicalities of menstruation, also remind them that menstruation is a natural process. It is nothing to be ashamed or scared of.
Our teachers are our spiritual mothers and they can be an excellent example of what a superwoman should be like. We hope that every teacher gets to become Miss Rozina for the young girls in their classrooms.
Dear teachers, you have taken up the monumental task of raising the next generation. Make sure to prepare your girls for all that they will experience in life, including menstruation.
It is almost tradition for siblings to tease and prank each other. Otherwise, who would even call them siblings? But while your relationship with your sibling is fun and games, being a sister, especially the elder sister, comes with a lot of responsibility as well. As an elder sister or cousin, you are someone who helps shape the life and personality of your younger siblings. Remember to be kind and guide your sisters about all that they should expect from periods. Teach them how to properly use menstrual products so they stay hygienic, healthy and care-free.
Even with full knowledge about periods and how to deal with them, getting your first period can still be a distressing moment. Periods come with a lot of fluctuations in hormone levels which causes cramps, mood swings, nausea and a variety of other symptoms. The last thing a young girl needs in that moment is to be in a situation like this, surrounded by boys. While it is of utmost importance that mothers should talk to their daughters about periods, it is also helpful to talk to your sons.
Young curious minds can wander off if not guided properly. Period awareness is as important for boys as it is for girls so that they don’t cause any distress or discomfort for menstruating girls. Well informed boys and men can learn how to be helpful to their sisters, mothers, wives and daughters.
It is as one of our respondents said. Periods are not a disease. They are neither a curse, nor something we should be ashamed of. Periods are a huge part of a woman’s life. The menstrual cycle, as ordained by nature, is indicative of a healthy, happy female body. So do not shy away from talking about it.
The young girls of Pakistan need us to be bold and honest so that we can save them lots of embarrassment and pain on the day they officially step into womanhood and for the days after.
Let's make periods normal for our girls and our society!