Menstrual Hygiene Day is an annual awareness day on May 28 to help break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential. But still it is not a topic that is openly discussed, even in the United States.
Palisades High School senior Kayla Hayempour told Circling the News that “The stigma, myth, and taboo of menstruation is a human rights issue. Many girls in developing countries are forced to use leaves, dirty rags or cornhusks to manage their periods since they can’t afford sanitary products.” She said that is known as period poverty.
“This issue forces girls around the world to miss or drop out of school, leading to lower socioeconomic status and increased poverty,” said Hayempour, who is the founder of Petticoats Rule, an organization focused on period equity and breaking down menstrual stigma.
Growing up in Los Angeles, Hayemour attended Kenter Canyon and Paul Revere, and struggled with the stigmas and taboos surrounding menstruation.
When she discovered the menstrual equity movement, she felt empowered to speak and effect change through her organization Petticoats Rule, which she founded in 2020.
Her activism started at PaliHi with the formation of Girls Learn International (GLI), another feminist and human rights organization.
“We started with a general focus on student activism and voter registration as even the girls who came to the meetings were embarrassed to talk about periods,” she said. “Once I opened up about my experience and we got to know each other more, this changed. We even recently had a school-wide screening of the documentary Period. End of Sentence. and discussed the period poverty issue with about 60 other students (different genders).
“Initially, the girls were reluctant to talk about periods but grew out of their shell once we created a safe space,” she said. “I’ve seen this shift in a lot of different places, even in activist ones where you’d think everyone is automatically open and comfortable.”
She’s even taken the message to her family. She has two younger brothers Ariav,15, a freshman at Pali and Ronen, 12, is a seventh grader at Revere. “I’m proud of how they are both learning about women’s issues,” Hayempour said. “Ariav even talked about period poverty in one of his classes a few weeks ago.”
This year, the UCLA-bound senior, was chosen as a delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
She connected with an organization in Nigeria called HAFAI, Health Aid for All Initiative, and shipped them 100 sustainable, reusable, menstrual pad kits.
Led by Dr. Ugochi Ohajuruka, HAFAI promotes the rights of girls/women to education and safe healthcare choices using a holistic approach to behavioral change, and sustainable menstrual hygiene management solutions.
Petticoats Rule and HAFAI are now launching a joint education and fundraising campaign.
Please join them at 2 p.m. on May 27 via zoom. Register here.
Donations may be made to: Click here.