Why We Do It
Myanmar women's 'vicious menstrual cycle':
1. The taboo causes misinformation
- Only a minority of girls & boys learn about reproduction and the menstrual cycle at school.
- It is considered inappropriate to ask questions related to reproductive health.
- As a result, very few Myanmar people have a correct understanding about menstruation and how to be healthy and hygienic when menstruating.
2. Which leads to unhealthy practices
- Most girls wear their pads for too long and up to a quarter of girls suffer from urinary track infection at a given time.
- Poor pain management leads some girls to miss one or two days of school every month.
- Harmful myths are common: bathing too much is believed to be dangerous, being active during menstruation is also deemed risky.
3. And feeds the belief that menstruation is dirty
- Menstruation is widely misunderstood as a purification process, implying that it is dirty.
- Nearly 80% of rural girls feel ashamed when their first menstruation arrive
- Even in urban areas, 83% of young women believe menstruation is dirty.
- Girls’ self-esteem & confidence are damaged by the brief that their bodies are dirty
4. Which creates a stigma around menstruation
- Girls are pressured to hide their menstruation, which leads to stress and anxiety.
- During these few days a months, shame is central to their life and to their decision-making. Their participation and attention at school drops, because they are worried and insecure.
- The priority being to hide they status, they often adopt unhealthy behaviours such as not changing pads as often as know they should.
5. And contributes to women's lower status
- From reaching menarche, Myanmar society sends a strong message to girls: their bodily functions are impure and make them spiritually and socially inferior to men.
- Their self-esteem and confidence will never be the same.
- Their identity is permanently damaged.
- Their social status is explicitly inferior.
- Burnet Institute’s Adolescent Reproductive Health in Myanmar formative study (FOD & surveys) with 765 rural adolescent girls, January 2018
- Knowledge & Attitudes survey with 200 young women in Yangon, Pan Ka Lay & Kantar Public, 2019
- Pan Ka Lay’s own 21 focus groups and 36 in-depth individual interviews with girls, young women, and young men, October 2017 to February 2019, Kantar Public and Pan Ka Lay
- SPRING Accelerator’s Girl Landscaping research: FGDs with 190 girls and 72 parents if girls, Kantar Public, February 2018