May 28, 2018, was World Menstruation Health Day. With half of the 106 million Filipinos living with monthly menstruation, one can assume, that this is no longer a cause for shaming, bullying, and stigma. However, many Filipino women and children still live with deficient menstrual hygiene information, limited access to toilets, taxes on affordable sanitary products, and scarcity of basic clean water.
On top of these, they also receive in abundance, are outdated passed-on information and behaviors about menstruation hygiene, still taught to this day. Not following the traditional rituals are perceived to result in comical and sad consequences such as illness, interruptions to or increases in menstrual flow, cramps, and insanity.
This unhealthy behavior is the main reason the Menstrual Hygiene Day was created.
The Philippine Commission on Women, in partnership with the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), Modess and DDB Group Philippines, held a forum entitled “From Womb to Tomb: Forum on Women’s Health” last May 28 at PUP Sta. Mesa, Manila.
The forum aimed to break myths and misconceptions on menstruation and menopause. The event gathered around 300 participants from state universities and colleges, national government agencies, civil society organizations, and women’s groups.
Invited resource speakers to the forum are Dr. Carmen Quevedo of the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (POGS), Dr. Natasha Estemban of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH)- Adolescent Medicine, and Dr. Soliman Dalisay of UP Diliman Anthropology.
Said activity is part of the country’s sustained initiative in support of the International Menstrual Hygiene Day, celebrated worldwide on May 28. Started in 2014, the international observance is being spearheaded by WASH United to promote awareness of the challenges that women and girls worldwide face due to their menstruation and to highlight solutions that address these challenges, including through media work.
“This forum is just the beginning. We still have a lot of work to do in shaping the mind of the people – women and men alike – about menstruation and menopause. May this activity spark a change in each of us. Our mission is to spread the word in our families, workplaces, schools, and communities. The stigma continues until we correct it and break our silence about it.” said PCW Executive Director Emmeline L. Verzosa.
“Today is Menstrual Hygiene Day! And if you care about your mom, sister, daughter, wife, cousin, aunt, niece, girlfriend, grandmother, friend and about 51% of Filipino population, you should understand why it’s important to get the right education about periods.
The stigma and shaming of women regarding menstruation should end today. Not only is it economically disruptive, but it hinders progress for all humanity. Menstruation is nature’s way of ensuring humankind will continue to exist, and the fight to provide basic needs like clean water, toilets in the schools and no taxes on sanitary napkins is not a gender issue, #MenstruationMatters to humanity.” said DDB Group Philippines Chief Culture Officer, Anna Chua-Norbert
For those who want to learn more, LIKE PCW facebook page – www.facebook.com/PCWgovph Leave all kinds of questions about periods, menopause, or even period preparedness during disasters and emergency situations.