Have you ever considered the global ecological and health impacts of disposable sanitary napkins?


Why? | Eco Femme.

I just received my Auroville International Newsletter in the postal mail today and there is an article about Eco Femme.  “Eco Femme is a women’s empowerment project rising from rural India and reaching the world,” says Llana Cohen, from the USA, she is a volunteer who will soon be an Eco Femme employee in India.  When I visited the website I was pleasantly surprised about how the organization is positive, progressive and feminine.  There are a few videos that share about the secrecy that women in India live with, but then I thought this is not that much different from women here in the USA.  There is a video about “Girl’s Puberty/Ritual” that is very interesting and the narrator says there are differences based on different states and communities in India but in large all girls experience this still today.  I wonder if my friends: Priya and Ranjani from Bangalore, Binita from Bombay, Hemani from Delhi, and Alka from Varanasi experienced anything similar ? I suppose the topic is taboo to varying degrees worldwide.  For instance, while teaching hatha yoga I mention the contraindications and list several including when menstruating practitioners needs to get advice as how to be safe in their practice.  Every instance when a woman makes the inquiry they will seek a private place and time to have discussion.  So, in gender mixed classes I always ask the ladies to stay after the gents have left the room and have the discussion.  I too, think it is a personal matter and have kept the ritual a secret in my household of men.  But, is it not time for us to find a safe way to have a public discussion about these issues.  Just doing the math is staggering, 12 months, several days multiplied by women globally, this does not seem to be a sustainable practice when thought in this manner.  It may be a private affair for individuals but collectively the waste of disposables are affecting us all female and male and our planet.

However, the economic factor which allows women in places like the USA to purchase commercial sanitary napkins does cause a good deal of global pollution.  I never knew that sanitary napkins are mostly plastic and I admit my ignorance and guilt for causing harm to the environment.  I hope that readers may also have an AHA moment and consider making changes, supporting programs such as Eco Femme and most importantly share this post with others.  Please do leave your comments here, and thank you for taking a few moments and reading this blog.  Thanks to AVI-USA (Auroville International), Eco Femme, Llana Cohen and all my friends in Auroville who have opened up my vista in so many ways.

[There is a link (Why?/Eco Femme. ) just above to read more about the Eco Femme Organization]

Namaste OM


Update on July 28, 2016

“This past Spring Semester at the college where I teach in New York, part of the United States of America……one of my students, told me she had to leave school immediately, at the beginning of the class, because she didn’t have any sanitary napkins with her and the ladies room didn’t either. So I left my class and walked into the “ladies room” which I use every class session and I for the first time noticed there is no longer any receptacle for sanitary napkins to buy or have free. Then I walked to the equipment center where I send students who come to class with swelling from falling or otherwise but who don’t want to miss class to get ice packs, or band aids, etc. I asked for a sanitary napkin and they told me they don’t keep them. Horrified but not stopping I just started asking every woman I saw did she have an extra sanitary napkin and alas only to find one of my own students had a tampon to spare but the student in need wanted to use a sanitary napkin. Fast forward on my List for items for “Back to School items” I’m buying boxes of Sanitary napkins and tampons and will let all the students know first classes where they can go find them in my closet if ever they need one. I also share with my students on my blog a video by EccoFemme, from Auroville, India about an conscious eco-friendly reusable sanitary pad. Oftentimes the students say this is a great idea for the 3rd world and are shocked by the honest comments from women in the video about missing school and embarrassment. But there is not really much difference here when it comes to open discussion and support for women here in the so-called “first world” Yes most can afford to buy the products even though it causes harm to the planet, but most rest rooms nowadays don’t have products and the ones that do charge money and I think they should be free and available.” I posted this today on my Facebook page along with the video from a new company http://www.shethinx.com



196 responses »

  1. Menstruation is an uncomfortable topic to discus. But why should it be? It’s a completely natural thing that happens to every woman around the world. Luckily for me and most other women in the usa it is not nearly as scary or embarrassing as it is considered in many other countries where women are not provided the same information as we are. The Auroville village action group is a group of women that is making a difference in the way women see menstruation. They teach women through educational programs what their options are for dealing with menstruation. They also disprove common myths and try to help women deal with the stigma that comes with periods. They also have people creating reusable sanitary napkins. Before women started to use these reusable sanitary napkins they were using old cloth, which weren’t made with the best martials and would not last for very long. These women make a large difference in others lives and teach us to discus feelings and attempt to not waste.

  2. Watching this video made me feel a profound sadness, which was followed by an overall sobering experience. This sadness arose with the acknowledgement of how difficult it must by for women in this situation. I also realized that, although I am able to empathize with this issue, I would never fully understand know the pain since I was born with a different anatomy. Still, the work being done by the Eco Femme team has inspired me on a deep level. Counteracting stigmas, especially around natural processes such as the female’s menstrual cycle, is a worthwhile goal to have because they negatively affect people all over the world. This issue is highly related to personal power and freedom, two vital components of a healthy life.
    Freedom is not something that should be put aside until there is a convenient time to address it. It is something that should be at the forefront of our daily activities. However, there is an obvious imbalance in this regard across the world. It seems as though once one group becomes liberated, another is repressed. Politicized position come in and out of fashion, but the true battle is fought every day, for every person. There is a difference between saying you believe something, and making moves in order to bring that thing into manifestation.
    Many will ask how they can make a difference, with the premonition that they cannot. However, it is this approach that stunts growth. As I see it, one should not expect to change the world in the blink of an eye as this will only lead to disappointment. I find it is best to align oneself with the solution, and set intentions. Aligning oneself could imply a wide array of behaviors such as reading more information and becoming well-learned, or dedicating one’s yoga towards the betterment of said situation. Helping does not mean you have to be a hero.

    – Conrad –

  3. I found this excerpt and video very interesting. I believe that the Eco Femme group is doing a wonderful thing by making an effort to create this re-usable sanitary product. Because every woman is different from the next, we all have different experiences with our menstrual cycles and our upbringings. Although most people think these women in India are very different than women in the U.S., I think that is not always true. Some women were brought up knowing very little about their menstrual cycles. On the other hand, some women were brought out educated about that matter and prepared for when the gift from mother nature arrived. Although it was very long ago, I remember being told very little about what a period was. Later on, after I had reached puberty, we went over it very briefly in health classes. I feel that girls should be educated about it more in their early years before the reach puberty so that they are prepared. I believe that this feeling of being ashamed of ones’ menstrual cycle is very common. Women around the world, not just in India, feel very uncomfortable when it is that time of the month. In most cultures, a woman is considered impure when she is on her period. This video made me remember the time where my mom once told me that her mom never told her what a period was because she was too embarrassed. My mom was born and raised in Pakistan, which is right next to India. I believe that women should not be embarrassed or ashamed of their natural processes. And not just in India, but in America, and all over the world as well.
    I have hope that this Eco Femme product will be very successful. Perhaps, when women realize that they are helping the environment by using this product, they will begin to feel less ashamed and more proud of themselves. I hope this product advances to as many different regions as possible, and reaches a great amount of great women.

  4. The topic of women’s empowerment is always relevant, after years of suppression not excluding current times. The ECO Femme project is an inspirational and positive thing that women and general populations all over the world need. Both the knowledge of our own bodies and how to properly see to its needs, and our planet’s are great priorities that ECO Femme is acknowledging. We can’t let these projects be done only in areas seen as impoverished however, there can never be enough information about either of these, and should not be excluding anyone in receiving information. More knowledge about our brothers and sisters ultimately means more conscientiousness about one another in all matters. This is necessary and is a timeless duty, and am so happy to see it being payed attention to especially in a nation like India where so many women have suffered but have only been getting stronger with the help of such groups like this and global networking in general. Both of these issues are international issues.

  5. I found this video to be very informing and informational. It made me think about myself and being a women in America. Even though we are more put on to stuff like periods i still think women everywhere need to be aware of their own bodies. I guess in America we were taught at a young age about our cycles in school and from our parents. In countries like India they aren’t for the most part, put into school and taught these things. The women for the most part in India are arranged for marriage and all they had to know is how to cook, clean and make sure you stay in line, meaning don’t disrespect your husband. Because these women are limited to their education they don’t know many things that they should know. It just shows what media in America can do. Media in America shows things that women in India wouldn’t even think about. America is such an open book for the most part, but countries like India the women aren’t suppose to open up about stuff like that because everyone told them it’s not Lady like to do so. I find it very depressed for the women who don’t know things about their bodies. Little things like a period should be the first thing a women learns to take care of. I understand that some women are uncomfortable taking about stuff like that but its nothing to be ashamed about. It was given to us for a reason is how I see it. The women in India are unaware of other products that they can use during their menstruation. I think more women around world need to be more educated on their body.

    • Please know this is not a video that represents the larger metropolian cities in India, but rather the off the grid villages which are many, don’t want you to think every Indian woman you may meet has limited self knowledge. Moreso, this is a larger global issue about the use of non-degradable sanitary napkins that are used everywhere and are polluting the planet. Also, one of your classmates brought up the topic that indigent women globally should have access to free sanitary products as this is a natural phenomenon.

  6. Menstruation has many restricting and limiting effects on women and people who menstruate. This reading has opened my eyes about the fact of how privileged I am to have been educated on menstruation and puberty, had a comfortable environment to talk to someone about it, and have had the resources to purchase pads and still be able to go to school and carry on with my daily activities. That is not the case for women and people around the world and this is a global issue that needs to be recognized. When privileged women and people think about menstruation, it is the typical worry of cramping, getting stains on our white clothes, or not being able to swim with friends. To me, these are some pretty privileged worries. In places like Niger and other under developed countries, menstruation is a extremely constraining time in a woman’s life. Some women don’t have access to modern sanitary products, are forbidden to go to places of prayer and other activities because of patriarchal ideals, and often times miss out on their education because they are unable to go to school. Because it can be such a taboo topic, a lot of women don’t have the resources to get help or have anyone to confide in.

    I am a very strong advocate in making menstrual products free and accessible for everyone, because it is a part of health care. In the U.S., women who make low income and use food stamps can’t even use them to cover the cost sanitary products. Sanitary products are not a luxury, but a necessity. Menstruation is a NATURAL bodily function— something that one cannot help or stop and it pains me that women are ashamed or embarrassed about this natural process; which isn’t their faults, because living in a culture that promotes these close-minded and oppressive ideas towards the female body makes it easy for them to think that way. Eco Femme seems like a great organization for giving women more information about their bodies and sanitary products and being mindful of the environment. In regards of sanitary products having a negative impact on the environment, one option is the menstrual cup, which is reusable and doesn’t produce waste/garbage.

  7. I’m really happy to see a project like EcoFemme underway, and helping to bring positive ecological practices to the forefront of menstrual education and health practices. While discussing the menstrual cycle is still taboo in the United States, it still shocked me to learn that the women in this video did not feel comfortable confiding in other women about their cycles, and even felt the need to bury their used feminine products as opposed to placing them in with other waste products. I’m sure this is no different to the United States in previous decades though, and even to this day, sexual health and menstruation seem to be skimmed over in many health classes. I’ve learned very little of the ecological consequences of feminine products, and am disappointed to learn that they leave such a negative impact on the environment. I’m glad to see this group educating women and helping them to produce a product that is self-empowering, and also empowers other women by helping them to make a sound ecological choice in product. I also learned through the group’s website that for each cloth pad purchased outside of India, EcoFemme also provides a cloth pad to an underprivileged Indian adolescent girl and offers her menstrual education, which makes the effort both ecological and humanitarian.

    – Alexandra S.

  8. It is a shame that puberty, which is a significant life-altering event that takes place over years, is seldom discussed. For many kids, you get the general sex talk once, at a school presentation, before menstruation even begins, and after the first time it happens you might get a quick refresher on the subject. Most people never discuss their periods even when they get older, and in India the subject is even more taboo. Making the topic of menstruation taboo is detrimental to the earth’s entire population. The more ignorant women (& men) are about periods, the more unwanted or unexpected pregnancies occur, causing the world to become even more overpopulated. Since periods are rarely discussed, most women don’t realize the alternatives that are available to environmentally-destructive disposable pads and tampons. Not to mention all of the different kinds of birth control available that reduce the occurrence of periods. Many of my friends are environmentally and health conscious and therefore use eco alternatives to disposable pads that many people aren’t aware exist, such as Diva Cups and Glad Rags. I knew that most pads were bleached and contain plastic but I wasn’t aware of just how horrible they are until I read the breakdown of ingredients, which included wood pulp mixed with super absorbent polymers! The public should be notified of the impactful environmental damage they cause as well as the health problems they have been linked to, and let’s hope that India doesn’t follow in our footsteps and start using as many disposable pads/tampons as we do (16,800 in a lifetime!).
    The Ecofemme website says that “a single use disposable sanitary napkin takes between 500-800 years to decompose.” I was shocked by the amount of time they take to degrade, its horrifying. I was also surprised that a whopping 79% of women “felt not well informed about menstruation, most of whom would like to know more.” Again I was shocked and saddened by the long list of lifestyle restrictions imposed on women who are having their period, including not being about to touch food that is going to be eaten by others, and sleeping outside. The worst parts is that having your period prevents some kids from attending school. I was shocked and horrified to read that “due to inadequate means of managing their menstrual periods, adolescent girls end up missing nearly 50 days of school,” and that 23% of rural girls ages 12-18 are forced to quit for the same reason. I think Ecofemme is on a noble mission to empower and educate women about making positive choices and changes related to their menstrual cycle.

  9. WOW this is a really amazing video!
    The statistics are shocking, but also not really. In many homes around the world females are not educated about such topics and the bible and certain religions do make women feel shameful about their body. Even in the western world, with public education, I remember going to sex education in the 5th grade and even so it seemed taboo to talk about bleeding and menstruation.
    Belief systems do really instill this uncomfortable shame and it’s heartbreaking. Growing up with predominiantly pious grandmother talking about sex, bodily fluids, and things I would consider natural was a little awkward at times. However with mediatization, the internet, and an open mother I was taught that blood is good! This video was really awesome to see the circle of women speaking about the flow, laughing about NATURAL things. This effort to educate women about their bodies is so inspiring. There are so many hygiene products in our western society, like Diva Cups that aren’t exposed too many women here in modern society and the simple affects of birth control that I think need to be taught to us too! This topic is definitely a needed one. I mean even the discussion of body positivity and the aspects of cleanliness that the bible instills in many. To bleed is to be free and natural. It is a wonderful experience and we should all feel comfortable with it. I loved how in a class you brought up how the women’s menstrual cycle is cyclical with the moons phases and it is so true. ‘”For instance, past research suggests that the full moon may be linked to an increase in unexplained strokes, gastrointestinal bleeding and seizures.” (Gabrielle Licheterman in Horomone Horoscope) I mean it’s small facts like these that need to be taught that bleeding is a part of nature!

  10. I find it amazingly frustrating the taboos that are in our culture surrounding menstruation. I am even uncomfortable using the phrase “sanitary napkins”. I thought this post was referring to makeup wipes until I began reading! Pads, tampons, moon cups, all of these things are important for life. They are not about “hygiene”, as menstruation is not something that is unclean, they are just about living and continuing to engage in the world during a time of the month that can feel a little debilitating!
    I lived in Australia as I was coming into puberty and there is a lack of shame there that very much helped me in my teens. Every other girl my age would discuss any change that was happening with her body, and her own experiences of womanhood. I have never found quite the same openness in the US, but I make sure to initiate that dialogue with people around me. I want all my female friends to feel they can discuss these things. Why do we call them personal, when over half of the population is likely to experience them? There is so much value in openness and kinship between all people.
    In the past couple years I have also come to use reusable menstrual products. I am saving money and the environment and see no downsides to this. My open discussion of this has also encouraged several people in my life to do the same, and they love it. I encourage anyone who reads this to go to gladrags.com and see if they would be interested in these environmental and personally healthy options.

  11. When a person is educated in what is happening to their body in regards to menstruation, then that woman will feel positive and secure of how to handle it when I comes up again. It mind boggles me that a lot of people actually take for granted that there are resources, or how big of a topic it is, or the responsibility of learning about it to the point where they can self help themselves and their all that comes with having a period.
    To have knowledge of periods and how a woman’s period affects not just that individual but a whole community, is very important and very important part of a woman’s life. Every woman will have a story to go along with the first they have it, and its very important to take care of oneself because it’s something that’s going to come up and happen for most of there adult lives. It can be embraced every month with preparation for a period, where in that case their is less chance of accidents, diseases, sickness, and pain.
    I definitely don’t take it for granted and I’m very fortunate to have access to resources that make my menstruation less stressful because if I didn’t, I would not only have to deal with it on my own, I may make myself sick. Periods mean different things to to different people, woman have just been recently talking about it. A period is the most natural thing to a woman that a majority of people end up being ashamed about. I’m personally affected by my period when it comes around, because I don’t necessarily want anyone to know that I‘m currently on it, or what product I’m using to be somewhat comfortable.

  12. To put it blatantly, periods suck. Although, with birth control, my period is much easier than it used to be. Regardless, I am a user of sanitary napkins and although I am more comfortable with using them, I am still ashamed of the fact that it creates an enormous amount of waste every day across the world. But it does require a lot of extra effort in in order to avoid creating this waste. Especially since most people, myself included, don’t necessarily realize the waste they’re creating since they are focusing more on the fact that blood is coming out of them.
    One thing that I also did not acknowledge before this video was that women in other countries are ashamed of this natural feminine process. Since things aren’t as convenient for women whom are in rural areas, especially in other countries, dealing with the menstruation is even more of a hassle. Companies like Thinx and Eco Femme are starting to change these inconvenient situations for women and now since they are establishing a steady customer base, their products are making a a slight indent in the amount of waste that results from the menstrual cycle.
    Women shouldn’t feel ashamed of something that happens every month even though it isn’t the most pleasant experience. A woman’s period represents her womanhood. In other words, for these women to feel ashamed for having their period, they are, not consciously, shaming their womanhood on some level. Periods are messy. Life is messy. It happens and in the video, the shame these women feel prevent them from practicing their daily routine. Moving around while on your period is uncomfortable, but we still don’t want it to inhibit our ability to work which is why these organizations, Eco Femme and Thinx, are so important especially in our contemporary society.

  13. These videos were no more eye opening then they were confirming. I knew other countries and even America has several stigmas about mensuration. No one would ever talk about freely in my school until senior year of my high school where I had an amazing health teacher. The first time I ever had a structures learning of periods was in fifth grade. For only one day the class was split up by gender and we watched a old video about puberty.
    I believe all public bathrooms should have free tampons and pads and I have never seen it done. There are so much taxes on menstrual products that many women cannot afford something so necessary. Periods are a normal thing and I could never understand why it would be condemn by the bible and the Koran. I always assumed it should be sacred if everyone got the chance to exist because of this.
    I would like to share this video with my mother. She is always saying how pads are expensive and reusable pad seem like an amazing invention. It’s not too expensive and it’s great for the environment.

    • Destiny, you have started your journal entry here with honest remarks and shared experiences, however, I know you have more to say about this topic and hope you may invest more time to create a real college level essay. One of the reasons the ancient texts and societies required women to abstain from holy places was to protect them: when moving around while menstruating wild animals are attracted to the smell of blood and it could have been dangerous in times when there were not protection from wildlife. Also, women had a lot on their plates with hard work and long days, these 5-7 days were a time for them to be able to have R & R, to be alone and take care of themselves. I have taken a long time to understand this and appreciate now the differences from our modern urban lifestyles are very different from biblical times until the late 19th Century urban areas. Hope this helps, Namaste

  14. I could only imagine the alienation a woman uninformed must feel about her menstruation. I was fortunate enough to have been educated on it prior to the fact. This video helped me realize the struggles other women in other places in the world have to go through during their period. It is a stressful time for almost all women and making the best of it is important, I think. There are many different options for those that have different needs/preferences and being aware of that can improve the quality of one’s life.

  15. I could only imagine the alienation a woman uninformed must feel about her menstruation. I was fortunate enough to have been educated on it prior to the fact. This video helped me realize the struggles other women in other places in the world have to go through during their period. It is a stressful time for almost all women and making the best of it is important, I think. There are many different options for those that have different needs/preferences and being aware of that can improve the quality of one’s life.This video also educated me further on the negative environmental impact of commercial sanitary napkins which I myself have also been guilty of taking part in. I will be sharing this knowledge and this video with my other female companions so more people will know about this issue. The same way the women in India are trying to educate their women by word of mouth and having groups together, this can be done here in America as well. The amount of waste created is unimaginable to me. I think it is important for all women to be educated on their body and the options they have involving it. Being ignorant to such topics, especially it being a very delicate and private, can be dangerous and cause great discomfort. I feel very lucky to have all this information available to me. One step our society can take in progress is having sanitary necessities available to everyone for free. I keep in mind especially homeless women who definitely have a harder time than us who have a home to go to.

  16. My mother is nurse, and growing up I was very fortunate to have the ability to have an open discussion about many topics growing up including menstruation and the body. While my home environment made me feel educated and safe, social settings such as school really removed my confidence. Amongst the women I went to school with, the only safe space to talk about periods was either the bathroom or the nurses office. I learned more from my mother and friends than I ever really learned in school, and by the time my education caught up with my knowledge, I had already had my period for about 5 years. I have never felt that my period had made me unclean, but it did make me uncomfortable. I suffer from ovarian cysts, and my periods have and always will be very painful and long. Dealing with the symptoms of these rough periods made me feel misunderstood in school because 1. Its not something thats really discussed, 2. Boys are usually excluded from these conversations and act mortified by periods, 3. period discomfort is rarely seen as a good reason to miss class, “be sick,” or otherwise. The first video was heartbreaking, as it is uncomfortable enough for me to have a period in a first-world country, and these poor women are seen as unclean, and not pure. This stigma is awful, and really has no foundation, as periods should be seen as a miracle of the body, as the second video pointed out. We wouldn’t have this life without women’s bodies, its about time we started appreciating and understanding them.
    Another issue with periods, is having materials readily available. Luckily for me I can purchase items at the store, but they are expensive, at times uncomfortable, and very bad for the ecosystem. In my eyes, if condoms can be given out freely, then sanitary items should also be freely distributed. Safe sex is just as important as free access to menstruation materials, as both sex and menstruation are completely normal aspects of being a human.

    From both experience and articles I’ve read, women’s sales tax on items such as razors and sanitary items are higher than men’s. That means not only do we spend thousands each year on these products, we’re actually paying more for being women and having to use them. We are literally charged a luxury tax on items that are a NECESSITY. Another issue is the lack of options. In only 50 years, have we seen 3 different items for periods, and only recently have other companies started to make these panties and reusable pads.

    I plan on sharing this information with my female friends and family members, as well as even some of my male friends. If I need to study male anatomy and understand how their body works, they should need to be actively aware of how a woman’s body works. The stigma of being “unclean” needs to be removed, and we need to better educated the masses on the best and safe ways to use sanitary items (how long to have a tampon in etc.), which one is the best for each person, and how a period really works. I am very fortunate to have a good family bond that allowed me to be comfortable with my body, and lady friends who went through the struggle with me.But it shouldn’t have to be a struggle.

    Women are 50% of this earth, and if we all make an effort to spread awareness, be confident in how our bodies work, and be more conscious of the materials we use during menstruation we could really reduce waste, and create better, more versatile products that are eco friendly.

  17. I found the videos to be very interesting. As a woman who has lived the majority of her life in America, my exposure to menstruation education has been limited to what the people of my country are taught about their period. I have not learned very much about what people in other nations have to go through during their period. The discussion regarding women having to leave school during their period, or even drop out of school altogether broke my heart. People across the globe should have easy access to period products such as pads, tampons, diva cups, and even THINX products. Students are falling behind on their education I believe that nobody should be ashamed of their period and that they should be able to freely discuss their period without feeling shamed or judged. It is a natural occurrence in the body and should be treated as such.
    I am familiar with the THINX company and the work they do to eliminate the taboo around discussions about menstruation. I have researched the products created by this company and I adore what they are doing to make conversations about periods less taboo, as well as showing that people in the trans community also experience periods, and that it is not just cisgendered women as society is often shown.
    My personal experience with period education was fairly minimal. My middle/high school did not teach us very much about periods aside from ‘don’t talk about it, keep it hidden’ but I should not have been taught this. Even just by watching these videos I felt like I was gaining knowledge I should have known years ago.
    I will be sharing this video with classmates of mine as well as family members who perhaps are less educated on periods than they should be.

  18. I will be honest and admit that the subject matter included in both the article and the video did not immediately draw my attention. However, upon beginning the video, I was instantly attracted and shocked by the lack of discussion concerning menstruation in other places around the world. Our society is so discriminatory and prejudiced against women that we don’t feel safe speaking about natural occurrences that men don’t experience. The fact that women in India don’t milk the cows or water the plants without bathing before, or at all, to be honest, is horrible, because they are ashamed of their human nature, and believe that they are dirty and impure. I believed our society was the most unaccepting of others, perhaps a rather misled belief, but after seeing this video, my ideals have changed dramatically. Our world requires that more and more women are open to their sexuality and learning about their bodies, but we appear to be living in a society that sends its participants mixed signals regarding ignorance and intelligence.
    The surprise the women had during the informative session concerning tampons, pads, and menstrual cups is eye-opening, because these women are all older in age. However, I remember experiencing those same emotions when I was very young, around ten or eleven years of age. I received support immediately once my menstrual cycle began, and was informed that period cramps are normal, but can be treated, and even though I’m on my period, I am allowed to live a normal life. These women, very similar to the book “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Housseini, are unaware, or appear to be unaware, that the menstrual cycle is normal, and is typically a sign of a healthy uterus. “A Thousand Splendid Suns” is similar in a way that women are not allowed to speak about their emotions, or “A Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood where women of a lower social status are prohibited to read or speak with other women about things they are concerned about. Eco Femme is a very smart and attentive form of acknowledging the power women have, all the while reminding them that they are not alone in the menstrual endeavor.
    I definitely question why our society chastises the ignorant, but when someone tries to better their knowledge, they are instantly shot down. I agree with “The Week” video, where my favorite things to talk about are the things we are not supposed to talk about, because we are enhancing our acceptance and knowledge of those around us. Even beginning with the smaller things, such as sanitary napkins being provided in school, can assist young females in teaching their children about what they were unable to learn when they were young, and therefore bettering the society they live in. I believe Eco Femme should definitely be provided around the world, even in secondary school, because the sooner we as people receive information, the sooner we can put it to the test, and better our world.

    • Thanks for taking the time to write an essay that is informative, offers your honest opinions and experiences and where you’ve made references to other resources, excellent…OM

  19. Because of this, I will be sending this video to the eleven-year-old female I nanny for over the summer. I hope she finds this as enlightening as I did, and that she feels comfortable speaking with me about any questions she has if she doesn’t feel comfortable conversing with her mother.

  20. Periods or menstrual cycles are a natural part to being a woman. For as long as women have been in existence, they have had a monthly shedding of their uterine wall, resulting in their periods. However, in much of the world, even in parts of the word that are more “advanced” than others like the US, the woman’s menstrual cycle is still a taboo topic. I am glad that the videos in this post question and debunk why that is. Every girl I know has had an embarrassing period story in her life, including me. But why is that? What is there so much shame around our females body’s natural functions?

    I have always been interested in the civil rights of women globally This is because,I know just how privileged I am to be living in America and and to have the opportunities that I do. I have always had access to tampons and sanitary pads from the day I first got my period. So it shames me to know that I have been taking advantage of that privilege. There should be no stigmatization to the woman’s menstrual cycle, for it is life giving. After watching the second video, I am ashamed to know that women even in the US have to deal with this stigmatization.

    I am definitely going to share this post with my friends from high school, specifically the young women. We had a secret language for when a girl was in need of a pad or tampon, and had to sneak around with our hygienic products so no one saw or had any idea that we were menstruating. there is something very wrong abut this. As a young adult now, I do not find myself embarrass by a tampon falling out of my bag, because if an adverse reaction is had, then they are clearly not mature enough to be around. However, I do wish that women in the rest of the world do not have to deal with cultural stigmatization of menstrual cycles.

  21. After learning about Eco Femme through the video as well as the text I couldn’t help to be grateful for the women who have raised me. More importantly, I felt that this method of reproducing sanitary napkins was an excellent idea for these women.
    Although the Eco Femme project is in rural India I do believe that the fear and stigmas of women’s menstrual cycle is still not an open discussion here in the U.S. The number of how many plastic applicators one women tossed in the trash over the course of their lifetime would massive. This method is not only innovative, affordable but is eco friendly. Practicing more mindfulness of what we are doing with our waste and how that may affect our earth is key to a sustainable practice.
    I will be sharing this information with all the women I love in order to open new and more thoughtful ways of handling our time of the month. Sometimes we forget what we are doing when it comes to our periods because we think we have all the tools we could use in order to take care of it. It is important to question these tools, introducing more sustainable ones and continue to educate.

  22. All of the information contained in the article and videos is very familiar to me. I have seen both videos before and still can’t fathom how different my life would be if I didn’t have the access to menstrual products that I do have.
    The content in both videos is clearly geared towards a “first world” audience. This is probably because of the progress we’ve made in women’s rights and equality so far that allows women in our culture an opportunity to talk and innovate to solve problems like these. From an economic perspective, the EcoFem project will surely make a great impact on societies more heavily bound to menstrual taboo. Not only will the women feel cleaner and safer, they’ll have a better chance at the education they deserve. The production of these products also creates more jobs for women, and subsequently more financial independence.
    I personally resonate more with the woman narrating the second video in terms of her approach to thinking about and talking about menstruation. My mother was never uncomfortable discussing the typical taboo things parents must teach their children about, and she made a conscious decision to be that way because her parents never made such information available. Because of my mother’s approach and my ASD symptomatic lack of understanding of social conventions, it never occurred to me that menstruation, reproduction, or sex in general was anything people were ashamed of. Then in the 5th grade they separated boys and girls to watch videos relating to our designated sex, and I was hit with the realization that all of my peers thought these human functions were gross and taboo if they had even heard of them before at all.
    I’ve always had easy access to disposable menstrual products, but now that I’m more conscious of the environmental impact of those products, I’ve realized that I don’t have access to reusable products, as they’re simply too expensive. For instance, one pair of thinx costs easily upwards of $30, and I’d need at least 3 pairs for my period. I’m excited about the progress being made with the EcoFem project in other countries, but I feel a disconnect in the “eco” part of that because I think more strides need to be made in making these products available to people who repeatedly do purchase the disposable products.

    • I think you will find more products available online that are less expensive and if you join in the dialogue it will help to end the sanitary product taxes and need to develop more inexpensive products….OM

  23. -continuation of previous entry-
    I plan on sharing this information with my little sister who has just started menstruating and wasn’t present when my older female cousins and I had a long conversation about the newer reusable products and different approaches to the problem of taboo in other countries and the US.

  24. I believe that the content in this video is very important to address. Some women don’t get the opportunity to talk about their periods, or ever learn about it. I find that people generally feel awkward when the subject is brought up, and that should not be the case. If it is talked about openly, then women won’t feel the same kind of shame or embarrassment that some do now.

    I was not aware about the environmental issued created by the disposal of sanitary napkins. I think that this should definitely be addressed, and alternative methods should be considered. I would definitely share this video with anyone and everyone to inform them of that, and also have them see how this topic is approached.

  25. What’s so beautiful about both of the videos presented in this article is that they both focus on taking away the stigma against periods, as well as strive for innovations in the realm of period products. Menstruation has always been a taboo topic, even being avoided in conversation and education in first world countries. So it’s hard to imagine how difficult it must be in less developed nations considering countries like the United States still have little innovation in the field of menstruation.

    I’m grateful companies like AFRIpads and Thinx exist because without them we wouldn’t have taken a vital step forward towards making periods manageable for women everywhere. Its appalling that 27 million girls have to drop out of school in India when they reach puberty and 50% of girls miss school during the week of their period in Uganda. The stigma and lack of invention for this natural bodily function is an epidemic considering there are millions upon millions of young girls who lack an education because of it.

    Periods are a natural and healthy process many people’s bodies go through. We grow up having to face it as if it’s something shameful that we must hide. Some women aren’t even lucky enough to have theirs due to complications that will lead to inability to have children and other health issues. Education in this field is important because we need young girls to not only understand what’s happening in their bodies, but also make sure they are comfortable with a beautiful process. Those who stigmatize against menstruation are just ignorant to the process that can be cured by education.

    -Georgia (Class Mondays 6:30-9:50pm)

  26. As a homosexual man, the topic of menstruation could easily be brushed off as it does not have demanding relevance in my life.However, I believe it is necessary to educate myself and discuss the subject with friends whom experience menstrual cycles on the subject to not only de-stigmatize it, but also learn about the ways in which period products can be toxic to the earth and female bodies. In researching, I found that there are products used for menstural cycles have been linked to toxic shock syndrome, due to their content. This was shocking to read as I imagine that there is an immediate trust when someone buys a popular product that it will not harm them. Sadly, this does not appear to be the case. See attached link: http://www.healthline.com/health/toxic-shock-syndrome#Overview1

    Though this video was surprising, I felt it was necessary to remove my criticism and instead attempt to understand what appeared to be a shameful and quiet topic around the women in the video. Personally, often being the only boy in a dance studio with many girls- menstrual cycles were pretty openly talked about, especially if accommodation was needed. In addition to this, one of my closest friends experiences endometriosis which in the past I have done my best to tend to in any way possible. I’m grateful that I had these open experiences, but it was shocking to see women twice my age speaking with shame for something rather relevant in their lives. However, it is a different culture, and I hope to gain a greater understanding rather than speak my opinions on something which is truthfully not a topic of mine to have many opinions on.

    This video was particularly enlightening as it presented a sustainable solution for the issue of waste mentioned AND menstrual cycles appeared to be a more comfortably conversed topic among the women. As I researched, I was able to find more products which can act as a healthier option for female bodies during the menstruation cycle that I hope to share with anyone in need of them.



  27. I found this video to be very informative. I learned a lot about issues that I did not know existed. It really opened my eyes to the importance of this issue. I think the speakers in the video are really well informed. I think they are providing a lot of well needed information.

    I personally do not have any experience with the content in this video. Despite that, I still this that the content in this video is very important.

    I have also never read any other readings on this topic so I do not have anything to compare and contrast it to.

    I will let my friends and family know about this video.

  28. Madeline Bodendorf

    This video showed me how lucky I am to be living here in the United States and not have to basically stop my everyday life because of something as simple as a period. After seeing this video, I’m only grateful to be in the position I am. I’m always complaining about my period and going to middle school when it first happened to me was embarrassing and I would stay home sometimes. However, I didn’t have to wash my body or not talk to my friends because I got my period. I’ll never understand this struggle of a natural life happening that should be comfortable for everyone.

    This video made me think of our country’s “tampon tax” because it is a “luxury item”. Virtually, our hardest struggle with periods is the expensive products and the taxes placed on them. Over in India like in the video, they can’t even carry on with everyday life because of their periods. It’s crazy to think that they’re still using age-old versions of dealing with their periods like old cloth while our biggest challenge is having to buy pads and tampons every month that are over taxed.

    However, this also showed me the pluses of what they’re doing. Reusing cloth instead of buying plastic and paper-filled products that are ultimately thrown out and never used again is beneficial to the environment. This is attractive to me because I’m an environmentalist and I never really thought about the negative effects of pads and tampons that are non-renewable. I also loved the idea of creating jobs for these women by employing them in making these reusable fabrics.

  29. Often when examining items of antiquity, it is very easy to pick them apart, and look upon them with newfound knowledge. The best example of this would be the debunking of “old wives’ tales.” These can be defined as, “a superstition or traditional belief that is regarded as unscientific or incorrect.” Of course, this definition is using the aforementioned newfound knowledge. There was such a time where “old wives’ tales” were taken as fact, and as a way for us to conduct ourselves by. I find it fascinating that we are able to do away with certain facets of our collective human consciousness, but we fail to do damage control on others. We have been diligent in making sure we have debunked the likes of “old wives’ tales”, but we have continued to let myths and misnomers about menstruation permeate the social atmosphere.
    In the video in the article, it mentions a survey conducted by the Auroville Village Action Group. From the survey they concluded that, “95% of women associate with menstruation with impurity, being polluted, and other such feelings.” (6:50) Throughout the video itself, the women make mention of these exact feelings. Katsuri insists that she must bathe before doing her household chores if she gets her period during the night. She will not do anything before cleaning herself. She states, “If I get my period at night, I sleep separately and in the morning, I come out, take a bath, and only then will I touch anything, cook, or milk. I will not do anything before taking a bath.” (0:56) Maha expressed that she will not go into her house of prayer during the tenure of her three day period, or touch her plants. (1:08-1:28) And lastly, Indhira speaks about her embarrassment, how afraid she is to speak to her own mother about what she experiences every month. (2:09)
    The cases of these women reminded of of the Bible verse of Leviticus 15:19. It says in detail, “Whenever a woman has her menstrual period, she will be ceremonially unclean for seven days. Anyone who touches her during that time will be unclean until evening.” It is incredible to see the parallel between the two. The idea of this uncleanliness is arguably an ancient idea that has stuck around and continues to affect both men and women in our society. These women feel that they have to go the extra mile to keep themselves tucked away during this time. I strongly disagree with this notion, I feel that we as a society must work to destroy the narrative of uncleanliness surrounding menstruation.

  30. Amber Ferguson
    How can the topic of girls and their experience with puberty be taboo? Just about every female on the planet goes through the struggles of puberty, however the conversation about it still remains limited. Although the cultures are different like, (in the United States compared to India), woman are still women and they need to be educated and heard involving this universal issue. In the United States women are fortunate enough to have access to sanitary napkins just about everywhere they go. It makes their rituals for that time of the month much easier, and far more convenient. There are no cultural restrictions for women in the United States during this time. In India, woman have chores that they must accomplish on a daily basis. Like every other woman in the world, they bathe and clean themselves up before starting anything in the morning. However, they are restricted from going into the prayer room in their houses on the days of menstruation. They won’t even touch any plants or go near them. In other places around the world, there aren’t such restrictions.
    In India, after the last day of menstruation, women do not throw away their sanitary napkins. They bury them in the ground. This may seem strange to other cultures, such as the American culture. The preface of the video states that the economic factor which allows women in places like the USA to purchase commercial sanitary napkins causes a good deal of global pollution. Sanitary napkins are mostly plastic so it causes harm to the environment, which is a fact that many people are ignorant towards. In India, instead of solely using sanitary napkins made out of plastic, they have made a way to make reusable ones, made out of cloth. They would use it and wash it and then use it again. Economically friendly.
    Another cultural difference is that in India, women would not speak to others, not even women their own age during those days when they have cramps. They would just say that they are tired and can’t work. They would not discuss it. They would feel embarrassed to talk about it with anyone, even their families. They just wouldn’t say anything to anyone. This is not uncommon to many young girls in the United States, which are new to it and are just figuring it out. Many women in India are not well informed about their menstruation by the time it comes, so a lot of fear and shyness stems from it. They are just too afraid or too shy to talk about it. The Empowerment Project helps women to feel more secure and get rid of the taboos of puberty, helps them realize that they are not alone and there are others dealing with it just as they are. It also educates them on different methods of hygiene so it becomes less of an impurity matter. The video states that there is value in group discussions that promotes self-learning. The project aims to break the silence. Its goal is to remove guilt and shame to improve self-esteem and self-pride.
    In sociology and psychology, self-esteem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgement of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. According to Sigmund Freud and Abraham Maslow, self-esteem is on the higher-level of needs on the hierarchy of life pyramid. They believe that self-esteem derives from confidence, achievement, respect of others, and respect by others. In relation to the women in India, they feel as if though they are unworthy and feel guilty for the natural process that which their bodies undergo. It is difficult to speak out about an issue when self –esteem isn’t present, this is why the topic of puberty in women remains so taboo. I myself struggle with self-esteem and I have a lot of insecurities. I am in a constant battle with myself trying to believe that I am good enough. It is very hard, and it is easier said than done to say and believe that “I am worth it” or “I am good enough” or “I am beautiful” or even “I am not alone”. I will share this information and video with everyone that I can. I feel as if though it is so important for people to be aware of all of the struggles that are had by women. Both males and females of a wide variety of ages should be aware. Once awareness is raised, people will start to talk, and once people talk, people will be united and just making life an easier and not only tolerable or bearable journey, but an enjoyable one as well.

  31. After watching these videos, I’m now realizing how ashamed women are made to feel about having their periods—how the stigma of periods being impure and gross is still in effect. It’s not something I think about when I’m on my period, probably because we have so many over-priced products here (in the USA) made for us to hide it very well—tampons so tiny they fit in your pocket. We should all be concerned about how many of these products we use because they add up, but unfortunately thats not even the pressing issue when it comes to periods.
    Something that really caught my attention was when one of the girls in India said she buried the pad in the backyard after three days of using it. She was one of the only one who used an actual sanitary napkin rather than cloths or something else makeshift, and then she also felt the need to hide it by burring it. Here at Purchase, I think we are pretty liberal but not when it comes to talking about periods even though they are 100% biological and natural and happens to all people who have functioning vaginas. I’ve refused to throw out tampons at people’s houses for fear that they will know it was from me.
    All throughout growing up it was an uncomfortable topic and especially made me feel insecure when around classmates. Unlike these girls in India, I was lucky enough to have a mom who was extremely open and frank about these things. She dropped off a lunchbox full of tampons at my middle school when I got my first period. I can’t imagine what I’d do if I didn’t know!? Especially if everyone around me made me feel like I was too impure to make myself some food or if I didn’t feel well enough to go to school. Over time, every month, I can’t imagine these thoughts being very good for self-confidence, and well-being. With some awareness, these girls don’t have to feel ashamed.

  32. This article and video has made me look at menstruation from a completely different perspective. While I always knew that periods were nothing to be shameful of, I never came to realize how religion has such a strong role on how we treat women who are on their period. I think that is a major reason we have had to deal with the taboo-ness of the aspect, but its interesting how this taboo nature still translates into seemingly non-religious cultures like those in America. This sort of backwards thinking is what is preventing us from seeing the completely natural process every healthy woman has to go through, and it shocks me that it is not something that is appreciated since it plays a major factor in the creation of life.

    I found it particularly interesting how the demonstrator explained to us how if we educated women in Africa about their periods, we could help them get out of the extreme poverty they are in. I never even realized that this could be such a huge factor in an entire countries economic standpoint. I also never heard of the underwear that they showed in this second video, which surprises me since I am a woman. I think it would be troublesome to have these underwear because it is not something that you can change thorough the day. For instance, I find that my periods are particularly heavy and I have been hesitant to try the cups since I feel like I will have to replace or wash it out almost every hour which is inconvenient for my work schedule. However, the underwear also feels uncomfortable to me because I would feel constantly dirty and would be stuck with my period all day. While these solutions are definitely headed in the right direction, I feel as if there is progress that can still be made to compensate for someone like me who wants to be eco-friendly but enjoys staying clean throughout the day.

    I will definitely be showing this to my female family members and hope to stay more open in our discussions with each other about our periods and what we can do to help each other. I will also be showing this to my girlfriend since she is very eco-friendly and would love to see other alternatives to pads and tampons.

  33. Aliena Ali

    I feel like there are a few different focuses of this video in terms of menstrual education and the ecological impacts of sanitary napkins. What I found most interesting was the way in which these rural women were being represented. I believe the video focused largely on the observation that these women were comparatively uneducated about menstruation. However, what the video did not explore in depth was the following statement: “Rural women are concerned with waste and do not want to add pollution through disposable products.” This was extremely striking to me for many reasons.

    In this video, we are shown multiple middle aged Indian women who describe to us their thoughts, feelings, and perceptions on their bodies during menstruation as well as their society’s views. As opposed to being focused on a quick fix, per say, as I imagine many of us westernized women would be, these women are actually concerned with how their body’s natural occurrence will affect the Earth. To me, that was incredible. A lot of the time I feel as though people that come from a place of privilege often time find fault or tend to criticize others for things they do not have control over – such as these rural women who are not exposed to menstrual education or have menstrual care readily available. The fact that these rural women are looking beyond simply dealing with their periods in an easier way and are embracing an environmentally friendly way to do so is the most incredible thing to me. Honestly, if I were in these women’s shoes and had to deal with my period in the way that they do, I would not at all be concerned with how I am adding to environmental pollution.

    Although I believe this video’s primary focus was supposed to be on how lower class Indian women deal with their periods, I saw a much larger conversation happening between two very different cultures. What I heard these women saying was that although they deal with their menstrual cycles in inconvenient ways, they still care about their impact on the environment. I wish this aspect had been further explored throughout the video.

  34. -As a boy growing up, when I was first introduced to what menstruation is, I thought it was the most disgusting thing. I hate when female spoke about it and I wouldn’t want to be around a female who was on her period. I felt this way about this normal situation, until I was 17 years old, when I had an embarrassing menstruation moment with my ex girlfriend. She was sitting on my lap when she experienced this situation. She was so embarrassed by it that she begged me to leave the park and called for her best friend to bring a sanitary napkin. Luckily her best friend lived close to the park.
    -Menstruation, every female has to go through it, but the experience, the myths and taboos… varies from culture to culture. Here in the video, we are introduced to a few women in India who’s experiences are culturally different from the ladies here in the US. Through rituals and certain customs, women are ashamed when it comes to experiencing menstruation. Some women abstain from working with animals ,entering homes and even cooking when they are experiencing menstruation. Now we might think this is absurd and that these women couldn’t possible know that this experience is normal.
    -As one student (Julia Baker) mentioned above “Most people never discuss their periods even when they get older, and in India the subject is even more taboo. Making the topic of menstruation taboo is detrimental to the earth’s entire population. The more ignorant women (& men) are about periods, the more unwanted or unexpected pregnancies occur, causing the world to become even more overpopulated.” I must admit this was well stated and I agree 100%.
    -Piggy backing of her statement, I wasn’t aware of the non-beneficial impact that sanitary napkin has on the environment and health problems that it can potentially lead to. The eco-feme is providing more effective ways to deal with menstruation which not only help the environment, but also educate those women who are ignorant to the subject matter.
    -Now as a male, this may not interest me to the full extent, but I wish to share this information with others from my cultural background. Even though culture guides behaviors more than written law, this video can help decrease the myths and taboos about menstruation, and provide more concrete knowledge to women and will have a greater benefit on their lives.

  35. Eco Femme is such a wonderful program to help those who are needed; this program empowers and encourages them to be happy with themselves. They would use an old cloth or disposable pad that impacts their environment negatively, it becomes wasteful and unsanitary. This project are concern and educating women to be less harmful their environment through disposable products. The programs teaches about menstruation and ways to deal with this natural process. I did not know this was happening in the other of the earth, this complete shocking. I always believed women would find a way to take care themselves. Menstrual is part of life, it’s something that’s not old news. Hearing their stories, it’s quite pitiful. For example Maha after the third day she would bury her dirty pads. Young women would miss school because of their menstruation is awful.

    The Week, Miki Agrawal discusses the value and natural process of menstruation. She shared stories from Africa, India, and her own parents. Her father mentioned that his mother mentioned she was: touched by the red crow”, and was not allowed to touch or go nearby those things. In the religious bibles and it states that periods are dirty and tainted and you cannot go near this woman. It’s just truly unfair. Men should be taught how to be a gentlemen and not make women feel humiliated to feel natural. This is not the only they make women feel ashamed about, another thing would be pubic hair.

    My favorite part in the video would be when the girl defined menstruation to be “special. It’s the monthly flow of blood from the uterus through the vagina. In all girls and its normal and natural. It creates life.” Both videos contribute how womanhood is crucial and should not be seen as a taboo.

    Until this day, I remember being shamed by other women when I had my period. It was Halloween and I wore white puffy pants. There was a big blood spot and three girls laughed at me. They did not say anything to me but snickered. I was so upset and embarrassed because no one told me and did not offer me any pad. People can be so inconsiderate.

    Another example would be someone lady stained the chair from their period. The men and women in class laughed and said “that’s dirty”. I just wanted to say, it’s normal. It can be cleaned with soap and water.”
    Both experience was inappropriate but it happens. I am more conscious about my period and if it happens I usually stay cool. What matters is how you look at things and how to deal with it with a positive enforcement and not stress about it.

  36. Isaiah~

    After watching the video about EcoFemme and the supplemental video about general menstruation awareness, I realized many issues of menstruation stigma not only in India but also in United States. The way that EcoFemme is showing women in India that menstruation is nothing to be ashamed of is amazing and it seems to be empowering women and giving them confidence from what I can tell in the video. Furthermore there were a few hygienic issues that the video mentioned, for example women were using rag clothes to clean up their period blood which is not as sanitary as pads and tampons. EcoFemme could be improving the health of a lot of women just by educating them on alternative ways of cleaning up their periods.
    The fact that this whole initiative really doesn’t seem to require too much money is another great aspect of it. This means that the benefits of learning that EcoFemme provides can be more easily spread throughout the country, which is especially important when considering India’s gigantic population.
    It was also very interesting seeing the juxtaposed article that handled the opinions of women from the US. It was very apparent that there is stigma in the states towards menstruation even if this stigma is not as big a problem as it is in India. There were clear parallels between Indian and American women and how they talk about their periods. An important fact I heard from one of the women being interviewed was that when kids are taught about menstruation in school, the boys and girls are split up and it is talked about in a very secretive manner, I believe this must have a big impact on how adults talk about their periods and this is great place to start in the effort of shifting the stigma of periods. I think communication in general is the best way to solve this problem of period shame and it can only start once we get over the embarrassment.

  37. These videos were very informative, and it saddened me that the stigma against the completely natural female menstruation cycle still exists. Even in the “stigma’s” original context of religious regulations, some historians believe the intent was not necessarily be oppressive, but rather a preventative sanitation ritual. Sadly, as with anything, humans like to skew concepts and turn them into blind traditions to follow rather than question if these traditions still serve a purpose. In this day and age, we now know why periods happen, and they are a miraculous function that needs to be talked about. For us females, they may be uncomfortable, but we all can agree that the female body is amazing, especially in its ability to generate life. Why change this AMAZING capability into something that is “dirty” and hush-hush?

    I liked how these videos focused on bigger issues besides the stigma against periods. Although I have considered the waste that comes along with disposable sanitary pads and tampons, it never occurred to me how much that waste amounts to on a larger scale worldwide. I think it’s awesome that these women in less developed countries are skipping straight to environmentally conscious solutions. We ought to learn a thing or two from them, and start to make the same change to help our planet.

    Another issue brought up in the videos was the noticeable affect periods have on young girls pursuing an education in underdeveloped countries. Missing one week of school every month is detrimental, and it saddens me that these girls have to give up such an opportunity to better their lives just because they don’t have immediate access to basic products. I really appreciate that there are companies like Thinx, and individual people who are taking steps to change these girls’ lives for the better. In the long term, they are also changing the economy and literacy of entire countries. Overall, I found these videos very interesting, and also found a seed of passion to pursue these issues further and have conversations about them. I would like to take action myself, both environmentally, and to support organizations who support these underprivileged women around the world.

  38. This video definitley reminded me how woman really go through a lot different daily challenges and struggles than men. This video was amazing! We women in other parts of the world, for example the U.S. are spoiled with disposable tampons and pads. However, one thing still in common worldwide is the shame that womens menstruation still needs to be celebrated, embraced, and regarded in all societies and cultures. I feel that people need to be more aware of this so that all women can be healthy while limiting waste from more eco friendly products. I consider this product revolutionary!

  39. As far as I know, in my experience here, in the United States, women have access to menstrual products and are not considered “impure” like in third world countries, there is still a bit of stigma, even with all the information out there about it.

    Growing up and experiencing puberty in my early teens, I had a mother who was willing to let me know what was going on, but also kept it hush hush from both my father and my brother. The only people I ever really discussed this with was my mother and my young girl friends who were also experiencing this. It seemed as though that was the only place I could talk about such things.

    Even today, I still feel the need to whisper when saying I have my period in public. From what women are taught from a young age, men will find it “gross” and judge you for it, making snap judgements and saying things like “Is it your time of the month?” when acting upset or frustrated ‘because that’s what happens when girls get their period”. Most men don’t even know how it really works.

    I wasn’t aware that disposable pads were even harmful for the environment let alone created so much waste. What’s also frustrating to me is that in these third world countries, the idea of your period as a young women is treated like an urban legend; “She has been touched by the red crow, she can’t cook in the kitchen”. Also, the fact that girls have such harsh repercussions when dealing with their period, so much that they will sometimes miss school, is just unbelievable. There is no reason why something so natural should stop a woman from doing anything. We’re not sick, in fact we’re very healthy when this occurs.

    Seeing this videos makes me see that change in the stigma is possible and that if we spread the word and keep moving forward, soon enough, we won’t have any stigma, just facts.

  40. The degree of abuse menstruating women take from the global patriarchy is absolutely staggering. From the isolated “bleeding camps” in some parts of the developing world to some of our own recent political discourse, I sometimes find myself at a loss for how we ought to address the situation. The work of groups like Eco Femme is really important, but until we can educate people of all sexes, ages, and cultures about the realities of women’s bodies and periods, there will still be places in the world where they believe that a perfectly natural bodily function–the one, moreover, that allows for the continued existence of our species–makes a woman unclear or crazy. Education on this subject is hugely important, but it often feels as though it will never be enough.

    With regards to eco-friendly menstrual hygiene products, there are many resuable alternatives becoming popular, like the diva cup or Thinx undies, which are nominally way more pleasant than wearing a pad in all respects. I think there’s starting to be a sea change in how we discuss women’s health, that makes it less taboo to talk about and innovate solutions for the period. One can only hope that the changes we see in our society can be carried to other cultures and benefit other women as well.

  41. It is interesting that I happen to be doing this assignment on the week of my menstrual cycle. There is a complex relationship that we have with vaginas. Even saying the word “vagina” out loud, feels daring. From birth women are taught that their vaginas are to be kept private and unbothered. So much that the vagina becomes a stranger to the women it belongs to. This mysteriousness revolved around the vagina creates shame. The guilt, shame and embarrassment attached to the menstrual cycle existed before, and extends beyond the uncomfortable sensation of those seven days. It lies within the inherent misogyny in our society.
    The emphasis on these videos seems to be on black and brown people in third world countries and calls out absurdity in their customs and relations to their vagina and menstrual cycle, but fail to address the similarities that also exist in the western world. We can easily point out the discrepancies in underprivileged communities but have a hard time grappling with the same thing that exist in our “1st world” reality. The creator of “Thinx” makes an interesting connection between how much money could be made to put back into these communities if women and girls could continue to go to school and work during their periods. I thought it was a good selling point for marketing but in reality, I don’t believe it is that simple. Even if these women could work through their menstrual cycle it wouldn’t solve the problems of their community. They still would be existing and dealing with debris of imperialism and capitalism, from the very same western world trying to “save” them.

    • Excellent points you have raised here…I do hope that you continue to share and keep the conversation going as these are the realities of all women globally and change is long needed. Men need to get educated and on board as voters across gender lines are need to eradicate sanitary product taxes, etc….best wishes OM

  42. Menstruation when I was growing up was a very privately discussed subject.
    I clearly remember in fifth grade going to the library and being separated from the boys and having “the period talk”. This started the whole idea that we have to be hush hush about our “time of the month”.

    I have experienced extremely painful periods, ones that have even made me pass out during choir on the top riser. I remember being so embarrassed and when people asked me what happened I felt as if I could not say in fear that I would disturb them. It is saddening that during that time I felt like I couldn’t tell people about a very natural thing going on with my body.
    These two videos really helped shed light on the fact that menstruation is a beautiful thing and should not be looked down upon. I really appreciated that both videos really shared women’s experiences, whether it be a celebrity or a third world country woman’s experience. It shows that no matter your status monthly menstruation happens and affects all women in large ways.

    I think it is important for our generation to be open to our children and make sure that they are not conditioned to believe that menstruation is shameful. Also, I believe that we should spread awareness to males and females of all ages. So many people in our generation still feel this sense that they cannot ask questions about this less talked about topic. Having a voice and letting people understand your background is the best way to break social barriers!

    • Thanks for sharing your own personal experience bringing more validity to the issues. I hope that you will continue to advocate and share this information with men as well as women to bring the changes needed such as eliminating taxes on sanitary products and so much more, Namaste

  43. I think its incredibly important that menstruation is destigmatized and its important that more projects such as Ecofemme exist and help spread awareness and understanding internationally. It’s important to understand the different ways in which feminine hygiene is stigmatized, while keeping in mind that there are still many stigmas associated with feminine hygiene in the west. I will make sure to share this video with my friends to help spread awareness and keep the word circulating. It is especially important for those who identify as men to talk to other men about it because it should not be soley the job of women to help distigmatize natural, healthy bodily functions.

    • Yes you are most correct the changes will come when men get on the program to help other men understand this is their issue too! Thanks for sharing the information and keeping the dialogue moving, Namaste

  44. I must admit that I had not previously thought too much about the issues discussed in these videos, and that alone supports much of the sentiment expressed by the participants in the clips. We certainly have a general discomfort about menstruation in America and, while I do not feel like it is considered impure in our culture, people tend to avoid discussions about menstruation and would rather not think about it, which is problematic. The project from the first video about the reusable sanitary cloth being produced in India seems beneficial for several reasons. This will undoubtedly eliminate a great deal of waste that is accumulating as a result of so many women only using disposable products. It also helps to educate people about menstruation and hopefully remove some of the stigma that exists in India and other areas. What I found most inspiring about the project is that local citizens are being empowered to produce the cloths themselves, helping to further integrate them into the local economy and allowing them to reap the financial rewards of this emerging market, instead of a faraway wealthy corporation manufacturing and selling the products.

    While I was aware that many civilizations view menstruation as impure, this association confuses me. As mentioned in the second video, there are ancient biblical texts that pronounce that menstruation is impure and, therefore, women who are menstruating should be avoided. But bloodletting was a wide spread practice that was used to rid the body of illnesses considered to be resulting from imbalances in the body. I cannot find any information suggesting that patients who underwent bloodletting were ostracized because of their impurities, so this insistence on avoiding any contact with a woman who is menstruating seems hypocritical.

    I was happy to learn about the partnership between Thinx and AFRIpads, because it appears to be mutually beneficial for both parties. Easing discomfort and embarrassment through innovative products like Thinx will greatly improve women’s experiences during a process that ultimately occurs for much of their life. And helping more women in places like Africa feel more comfortable with this bodily process and providing them with effective, sanitary products is vital to keeping them from dropping out of school. Making the process of receiving an education more manageable for women will have incredible benefits for not only them, but their societies at large.

    • Thanks for a well thought out and written essay. Your honesty is refreshing and I do hope that you may continue to share information with those in your circles. We need more men to be a part of the conversation as many areas in the USA tax sanitary products and as voters and advocates of fairness men need to be involved in more than one way in the dialogue to bring awareness and change in the USA and globally, Namaste

  45. I have often thought about my carbon footprint, that is a big reason why I am a vegan. I use something called a Diva Cup which is a sustainable menstruation cup that you put inside of your body to capture the excitement while you’re on your period. The zero waste lifestyle is something I am going to do one day, it is all about being sustainable and reducing your carbon footprint to ideally, zero waste in total. As a society I believe we have been conditioned to think that we need to be hyper sanitary all the time, with everything in plastic packaging.

  46. I think this is a beautiful assignment that you have assigned for this specific journal. It is very difficult to find anything of the sort in public spaces that discuss menstruation publicly and I myself have noticed my ignorance in feeling ashamed for feeling such shame for something that should be celebrated instead of exiled. I will also admit as well that I had ignored the potential harm that feminine hygiene products could enact on the environment because of my desire to not stain my clothes. This the reluctance is for obvious reasons since blood is one of the most difficult substances to get off clothing but also because of the embarrassment that accompanies bleeding through your clothes in public spaces. This perpetual shame on women for their menstruation cycle I believe is a vital reason as to why environmental effects are often ignorantly ignored or not thought about which is incredibly unfortunate. What this organization is doing is absolutely wonderful and it brings me so much joy to see that this is something that is being educated to women whom don’t have the resources and easy accessibility to their menstruation options and education. Not only is Eco Femme a revolutionary feminist effort, it is also one of environmental importance.

  47. The ECO Femme project is incredibly important, and preach a relevant message that needs to be heard, especially in a society where women have been systematically opressed and taught to be lesser in importance and ability compared to men. This post was incredible in how it bridges the gap between women in India and America, showing how similar we all really are. As a man, it is hard for me to relate to the struggles women face regarding their natural bodily functions, and the way that our society as well as societies around the world depict these functions, but I can empathize and understand the need to change it. Through my girlfriend and female friends I’ve had throughout my life, I’ve been told how they’ve been taught their menstruation is somewhat taboo and disgusting, which is horrible. It is a part of life, and a natural bodily function that every woman faces throughout their lives. We as a society need to push to put an end to the stigma surrounding menstruation and depicting it as natural, as opposed to some disgusting taboo one should be ashamed of.

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