The fellowship journey at the Global South Coalition for Dignified Menstruation was an incredible learning experience not just because of the sessions, but also the participants. Although I have been working on menstruation for a while, it is still looked at as a health and hygiene issue in Bangladesh where I am from, and “dignified menstruation” is a concept I wasn’t familiar with before this fellowship.
Additionally, all the sessions, and discussions were a great opportunity to delve into the topic deeply and understand the nuances around it. Starting from learning about the different cultural practices in our countries, when it comes to menstruation, to understanding the taboos around it, and how not having dignity while menstruating was eye-opening-that it is a form of gender-based violence. I also understood regarding the different stages of ones menstruating journey-starting from pre menstruation to during, followed by peri-menopause, and then menopause, how the symptoms vary, and how a woman goes through all these stages in her life. I have also been able to relate now, these phases to the different women in my life-my mother, and other friends. I learned how its related to child marriage, and how more girls need to be made aware of the consequences, so that they can grow up to advocate, and to have the resources/information needed to have dignified menstruation, and to press for it for those around them.
In terms of achievements, I was happy to publish my poem “The Color Red” in a national daily newspaper of Bangladesh: https://www.dhakatribune.com/opinion/specials/333278/the-color-red and stories on social media on the Global South Coalition for Dignified Menstruation Facebook page: https://fb.watch/p0Tj0k0aPb/, https://fb.watch/p0T0-Q_I4q/ and https://fb.watch/mNk4c51477/, on the situation and quotes from women and girls in Bangladesh. I also moderated the panel on dignified menstruation, on behalf of the fellowship, on the occasion of International Girl Child Day, 2023: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvJgmmFXe7M where the fellows and I talked about how young girls are affected, during menstruation because of the taboos that are inflicted on them.
The challenge has been writing the piece for the Dignified Menstruation Anthology, as we had to think through quite far behind: on when we first heard of menstruation, what our experiences and feelings were, how we were made to feel, and how that impacted our lives. Although, I am happy to say that I completed the assignment in the given time and hope to see it being published in the anthology!
Ultimately, for all women around us, what one needs is support from those around her, from her family and close ones, to be treated with love, and care and to make the environment friendly for her-both indoors, outdoors and at work, during her menstruation journey. I hope to continue on this path, as a dignified menstruation advocate with the fellows and the team at The Global South Coalition for Dignified Menstruation, and hope to be able to join the physical conference next year!