Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, is probably the first member to voice her opinion on menstrual hygiene. It is a well-known fact that Meghan has a knack for writing and her inspiring and thought-provoking works have been published for ELLE UK. In January 2017, as an ambassador for World Vision, the 35-year-old visited India to learn about the issues faced by the women and young girls during their periods and how they are stigmatised for having their periods. Meghan wrote an empowering piece in TIME magazine about her experience learning regarding women’s hygiene, education, health care and development in India. The article was published on International Women’s Day last year.
In the article, Meghan writes about how Indian women and young girls face a lack of access to menstrual hygiene information and products, and how girls are stopped from attending school during ‘those’ days. ‘One hundred and thirteen million adolescent girls between the ages of 12-14 in India alone are at risk of dropping out of school because of the stigma surrounding menstrual health. During my time in the field, many girls shared that they feel embarrassed to go to school during their periods, ill-equipped with rags instead of pads, unable to participate in sports, and without bathrooms available to care for themselves, they often opt to drop out of school entirely,’ she writes.
She continues, ‘Furthermore, with minimal dialogue about menstrual health hygiene either at school or home due to the taboo nature of the subject, many girls believe their bodies are purging evil spirits, or that they are injured once a month; this is a shame-filled reality they quietly endure. All of these factors perpetuate the cycle of poverty and stunt a young girl’s dream for a more prolific future.’
Meghan shares a statistic that 23 percent of girls in India drop out of school because of lack of access to toilets and sanitary pads. And when a girl misses her school in India due to the period it puts her behind her male classmates by 145 days. ‘When a girl misses school because of her period, cumulatively that puts her behind her male classmates by 145 days. And that’s the mitigated setback if she opts to stay in school, which most do not. The latter elect to return home, increasing their subjection to dangerous work, susceptibility to being victims of violence, and most commonly, being conditioned for early childhood marriage,’ she writes.
She finished her piece by urging people to break the cycle of poverty and achieve economic growth and sustainability. When we empower girl hungry for education, we cultivate women who are emboldened to effect change within communities and globally.
Meghan Markle married Prince Harry on May 19, 2018, at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. The royal couple asked their friends, guests, and well-wishers to donate to charity instead of sending gifts. They personally selected seven organisations, one of which was Mumbai-based Myna Mahila Foundation, an NGO working towards women empowerment founded by a Duke University graduate Suhani Jalota.
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