Taboos around menstruation and menstrual hygiene have limited adolescent girls for ages. The stigma attached to periods affects not only the education of girls entering puberty, but also affects the country’s GDP. Yes, menstrual hygiene has direct relations with the growth and development of entire economies. Crazy, right? Not so much. Shradha Shreejaya, a menstrual hygiene advocate and educator at Sustainable Menstruation Kerala collective, opines that the girls miss school during periods due to two main reasons – Period cramps and lack of private changing space and clean toilets. Some of them drop out of school altogether.
This directly affects the country’s workforce development. A woman’s future earnings grow with each year of education, and so does the country’s GDP. An educated girl will marry later, have less, healthier children and will be less likely to experience sexual assault. According to The Guardian, with every 1% increase in the proportion of women with secondary education, a country’s annual per capita income grows by 0.3%. Closing the unemployment gap between adolescent girls and boys would result in an up to 1.2% increase in GDP in a year. All in all, education has a huge effect on a woman’s livelihood, health and safety.
Thus, menstruation is not just a girl’s problem. The economic implications of menstrual shaming cannot be ignored. Lack of women representation as well as lack of information among men on the problems faced by girls during their period is a towering problem. Spreading awareness about the myths surrounding periods and open discussions on the taboos around menstrual hygiene is essential, not only to help girls lead a better quality of life, but also to increase the skilled workforce of our country. Awareness among the youth, be it girls or boys, is an essential part of eradicating the country’s stigma around menstruation and menstrual hygiene.