What do you get the couple who has everything? Better access to menstrual pads! If you want to send Harry and Meghan a royal wedding gift (we know you do!) just send money to support a period-positive organization providing young girls and women in the slums of Mumbai access to safe and hygienic menstrual pads. The Myna Mahila Foundation in India is one of the few select charities chosen by the newlyweds to receive donations in lieu of gifts.
Even if you’re not caught up in royal wedding fever, that’s pretty exciting, right? All those wealthy folks attending the affair have pockets deeper than their hats are high, which can make a real difference. And we know this is a cause dear to Meghan Markle’s heart because she spent time in India last year and wrote in TIME magazine about how vital it is for young girls to receive proper education, and in order to do so, to feel supported, informed and free of shame when it comes to their period.
Markle wrote in 2017:
During my time in the field, many girls shared that they feel embarrassed to go to school during their periods, ill equipped with rags instead of pads, unable to participate in sports, and without bathrooms available to care for themselves, they often opt to drop out of school entirely. Furthermore, with minimal dialogue about menstrual health hygiene either at school or home due to the taboo nature of the subject, many girls believe their bodies are purging evil spirits, or that they are injured once a month; this is a shame-filled reality they quietly endure. All of these factors perpetuate the cycle of poverty and stunt a young girl’s dream for a more prolific future.
While the subject is still very taboo in many communities, there is hope that organizations like Myna Mahila, which employs and empowers local women, will begin to shift the public discourse and build a more positive period culture.
Still today, more than 40% of Indian women aged 15 to 24 do not have access to sanitary menstrual products during their period, according to the India National Family Health Survey. Many menstruators are forced to use rags, newspapers, even hay or sand every month which can perpetuate the feelings of shame as well as the stigma of menstruation as dirty or unclean. Meanwhile, those menstruating are often not allowed to touch food or forbidden from entering enter places of worship while on their period.
Myna Mahila is one of the growing number of organizations, in India and beyond, working hard to reach the young girls and women who have little to no access to safe and clean menstrual products and thereby educate and empower them. There is much more to be done, but it’s deeply encouraging to see that they are receiving international attention and that the subject of menstruation is getting the royal treatment.
[W]e need to push the conversation, mobilize policy making surrounding menstrual health initiatives, support organizations who foster girls’ education from the ground up, and within our own homes, we need to rise above our puritanical bashfulness when it comes to talking about menstruation. — Meghan Markle
Learn more about the Myna Mahila Foundation here.