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We’re celebrating International Day of the Girl! Back in 2012 the United Nations acknowledged and marked this day as the first International Day of the Girl - it aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights. This year theme is “my voice, our equal future”.
As a period-power brand, we feel it’s an important day for us to highlight and focus on menstrual hygiene and education. Every day at Modibodi we fight injustices and strive to eliminate period poverty, expose taboos and break down gender equality across the world. With our RED brand we continuously work with menstrual educators in high schools and sponsor education programs, as well as supporting young women across our channels to give them a platform and voice.
We’ve asked a few girls to write a bit on their experiences of being a girl and what the day means to them.
Emily Prior – 13 years old WA, Australia
Emily is one of our ambassadors, not only does she advocate for disabled young people, but also is new to experiencing her period. We’ve loved working with Emily and her mum, here’s what International Day of the Girl means to her:
International Day of the Girl is one of my favourite days! The celebration of being a girl. This year’s theme is “My voice, our equal future” and it focuses on helping create a better world, where girls are recognised, included and invested in.
I’m a 13-year old disabled girl. I decided when I was eight years old, I had to use my voice because I didn’t see my disability being included. I recognised the exclusionary messages in advertising, that people with disabilities were being excluded from mainstream media and advertising.
The media told me that my disability was a tragedy. It told me I didn’t exist or belong, and it made me feel invisible. My disability isn’t a tragedy. It is a part of who I am, and I love, and I am proud of who I am.
My Mum has taught me that you should never underestimate or doubt the power of one person to make a difference. It doesn’t matter how small your voice is. I have found that the more you talk; the more people start to listen. Disability should be and has to be included because it is just who we are.
I want to use my voice to create and make change. I want to encourage other young disabled girls to do the same. It is so important to me.
I want to be able to live in a world where being a girl, and a disabled girl, I am free from discrimination, have the same opportunities and I am valued and recognised.
Simran Mackrani – 15 years old QLD, Australia
Simran reached out to us earlier in the year as she wanted to write a piece on her own experience with periods within her culture, how it differs to her mother’s experience and how its changing.
I am one of the lucky ones. Lucky in the sense that my mum does not subscribe to archaic period practices that are so deeply ingrained in our Indian culture. Growing up, my mum suffered the consequences of decades of discrimination against normal, female bodily functions. Comprehensive knowledge regarding periods, reproduction and gender identity was non- existent. Periods and sex were taboo to discuss, even with your own mothers. Even in Australia, my cousins uphold the tradition of steering clear of the prayer room and isolating themselves from religious events if they are on their period. I still remember conversations between two of my cousins and aunt leading up to my cousin’s marriage. They were discussing the two of them going on ‘the pill’ for the wedding. Why would you need to stop your period for a wedding, you may ask? Well, according to our ‘beliefs’ a menstruating girl/woman would bring bad luck if she entered the wedding house.
From such a young age, girls are shamed for something completely natural and out of their control. They are belittled and deprived of education about their reproductive system, which leaves most girls unaware and feeling ashamed of their bodies.
Although periods are less taboo in places like Australia, remnants of a time where girls and women were shamed for their periods are still visible. From casual comments about women ‘PMSing’ and being ‘too emotional’ to discretely sneaking sanitary pads and tampons to the bathrooms, the stigma surrounding menstruation is still prevalent, just in a less obvious way.
Personally, I admire companies like Modibodi which aim to be both environmentally friendly, and work towards normalising the conversation about menstruation. I feel fortunate that I have access to comprehensive education about my body, and that I do not have to uphold these old traditions.
Sasha Meany - 23 years old NSW, Australia
Sasha is our talented host of our podcast The RED Tales. We have loved working with her and listening to her supportive, understanding and thoughtful approach when interviewing each of our guests every fortnight. Here's a bit from Sasha on fitting in vs standing out:
When I was a young girl I pushed against the label of “girly”. Being called “girly” felt like an insult, implying weakness or triviality. I threw myself into being smart and studious. Hermione Granger was a beacon of hope for me, the self-labelled “book worm”.
As I got closer to my teen years, I was becoming increasingly frightened of things that were “girly”. Lipstick, dresses, romance, approval from doting adults. I felt pigeonholed, that my lack of interest meant I wasn’t living up to a standard. I felt that I couldn’t even experiment with those objects, in case I did it wrong and people would laugh. Slowly I became quieter and quieter, hoping that no one would notice me. Because if they didn’t notice me, they couldn’t laugh at me.
That all changed when I started drama tutoring with Mrs. Elliot. She was an intelligent, witty and warm woman whose elocution was unrivalled. I got to try on different characters for size, and slowly my self-consciousness began to give way. Instead of trying to be pretty, she encouraged me to be as ugly and as loud as possible.
I could contort my face like Jim Carrey, spread my legs and make people laugh. “Who was this short girl with the booming voice?!” I let people see me in my glorious excitement, full throttle and blinded by the adrenaline, laughing with me not at me.
Be ugly, be as ugly as possible. A glorious mess of a person with a smile on your face. It’s hard and there are heaps of tears, feeling that people don’t get who you are. When it’s that hard take a break, but remember there will be your own Mrs. Elliot’s who see you exactly as you are and celebrate what you can give to the world.
International Day of the Girl celebrates defiance of the stereotype. Girls are not weak or trivial, nor do they have to be pretty and quiet. They are strong, influential, and everything and anything they want to be.
We are continuously so inspired to work with these young women, to listen and learn from their views on the world.
We’re committed to increasing access to sustainable feminine hygiene products for people in need globally and for people in times of crisis with our Give A Pair program. A small percentage of every purchase made by a customer goes towards providing product directly into the hands of those who need it most! You can also purchase a virtual pair, and we’ll donate it! To date we have donated 22,074 pairs locally and globally.
See more about Give A Pair here.