As girls get excited to head back to school in the US, girls in Ethiopia face school with the fear of shame and embarrassment.
This back-to-school season, Dignity Period is helping girls go to school shame-free by providing reusable pads, and giving educational materials to boys and girls about periods. When girls are equipped with knowledge and sanitary pads, they are more focused on chasing their dreams than concealing their shame.
Dignity Period’s work helps teachers too. Tekle is an English teacher at Adikyeh Secondary School in northern Ethiopia. She partners with Dignity Period to teach boys and girls about menstruation. Before Tekle began using Dignity Period’s Growth and Changes booklet to teach students, girls were often bullied and shamed to the point of dropping out. Now girls are dropping shame, and gaining respect for their bodies.
Tekle focuses on the boys in her school as well. Training men to treat their female peers like sisters helps put the girls’ periods into perspective. We spoke to a male student of Tekle’s who used to tease girls about their periods. An aspiring doctor, he now practices compassion and understands that menstruation is not a source of shame, instead, he sees it as a gift.
Maryano also sees her period as a gift, foreshadowing of the gift of children someday. Sporting her bright purple shirt and confident smile, you would never think she went to a school where girls used to be bullied about their periods to the point of dropping out. Maryano is not ashamed to be a girl; she takes pride in her female body and wants to become a gynecologist to help other women and girls like her.
Dignity Period has helped give the boys in her class the education needed for her and the other girls to be comfortable while studying, while also supplying reliable, reusable pads so they don’t have to worry about accidents. They have bigger things to think about – their futures.
This back-to-school season, Dignity Period is taking pride in the success and change brought to community schools like Adikyeh. By providing girls with menstrual hygiene products and educating both sexes on the nature of periods, Dignity Period is sending girls back to school without shame.