Giving Back - Philippines
When I was younger, my mom would tell me stories of her school experience as a young girl on her period in the Philippines. An unkept bathroom with no running water meant she would go without changing her pad, sitting in a humid, overheated classroom… If she dared to make the walk to school and back with all of her faith invested in that one pad lasting for the entire day. Conditions have not improved much since then. Not having access to facilities with privacy, soap, running water, or proper disposal increases the likelihood of infection, and decreases school attendance by a few days each month for girls.
Back in 2012, UNICEF conducted a study on menstrual health in Masbate and Metro Manila schools, stating that “girls report experiencing stress, shame, embarrassment, confusion and fear due to a lack of knowledge, an inability to manage menstrual flow or from being teased by peers.” Since then, the effort to implement WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) into schools’ programming has been made, but not without being challenged by the Catholic Church. The information given to the students is vague at best, leaving young girls at the mercy of myths like “wash your face with the blood of your first period to prevent acne,” and “don’t bathe during your period, or you’ll become infertile.” 10% of girls ages 12 to 15 are not participating in the education system, nor are they receiving any programmed information regarding menstrual or reproductive health. These girls likely live in the remote coastal and provincial areas of the Philippines, making the nearest grocery stores far and difficult to travel to, only to be met by insufficient stock of feminine hygiene products.
PMSBOX for the Philippines
PMSBOX will be donating sanitary items while distributing instructions on maintaining hygiene during menstruation, and working toward dispelling the common myths that are dangerous to women’s health. Together, we can reduce rates of infection while increasing rates of school attendance among women in the Philippines.
WASH in Schools Empowers Girls’ Education in Masbate Province and Metro Manila, Philippines. 2012, www.unicef.org/wash/schools/files/
WASH in Schools Empowers Girls’ Education Proceedings of the Menstrual Hygiene Management in Schools Virtual Conference 2012. 2012, www.unicef.org/wash/schools/files/WASH_in_Schools_Empowers_Girls_Education_Proceedings_of_Virtual_MHM_conference.pdf
Rodriguez, Fritzie. “Menstruation 101: Putting a Period on Period Myths.” Rappler, 24 May 2015, 10:30AM, www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/gender-issues/93686-menstruation-hygiene-myths.
Philippines National Education Profile 2014 Update. 2014, www.epdc.org/sites/default/files/documents/EPDC%20NEP_Philippines.pdf.
Post and thoughts by: Valeri Santa Cruz