I find myself swinging between joy and disappointment as I read of the – Yes, courageous – act of Jorge O. Elorza, mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, who will join City Councilwoman Kat Kerwin, and Providence High School students, to announce a donation of 100,000 period products to Providence after-school programs in celebration of Menstrual Hygiene Day.
That’s great, isn’t it?
So why am I (also) disappointed?
Because there is so much more to Menstrual Empowerment than products!
“We need to come together as a community to empower and support our students so they can focus on what matters most – learning” said Elorza.
I beg to differ.
Learning is extremely important, indeed. But it’s not what matters most.
Self esteem, positive body image, an understanding of our cycle, and a thriving to live in sync with it — may well be as paramount to a girl’s life as learning is, if not more. The absence of menstrual products can certainly hinder learning, yet the availability of them – in itself – does nothing to increase girls’ understanding of their body’s rhythm, or how to live in harmony with it.
Council President Sabina Matos said: “If we are to provide young women with the tools they need for success; feminine hygiene must be a part of that conversation.”
Yet the conversation must Not Stop Here!
Products availability is a base line, which I am truly excited to see provided in Providence. It’s time! I truly hope that other cities – all over the U.S. and around the world – will follow suit.
But lets continue…
Let’s not stop at the foundations!
Let’s build the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd floors comprising of educating girls about their body and their menstrual cycle; Lets openly combat period-shaming, taboos, and negativity, which cultures around the world bombard girls and women with — for generations; Lets teach our girls to recognize these messages and replace them with empowering ones: about their body, their cycle, their femaleness; And lets build a roof over these floors, anchored in the foundation of products.
Lets welcome our girls into womanhood by witnessing, honoring, and celebrating them as they step from girlhood into womanhood.
Products are important, indeed, and I am grateful to the corporations donating them. It’s a joyful beginning. But I will not rest until the building blocks of empowerment are freely given to today’s girls — tomorrow’s women!
We need nothing less in order to succeed!
Menstrual Empowerment resources:
for Girls – click HERE
for Mothers & Educators – click HERE