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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Published

08 June 2023

Author

Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Themes

Breaking the taboo on the topic of menstruation urgent to address issues with women and girls’ reproductive and sexual health

Breaking the taboo on the topic of menstruation urgent to address issues with women and girls’ reproductive and sexual health

25/05/2023

The need for more open discussions on girls’ and women’s menstrual health and hygiene is required if we are to address issues around women’s reproductive health. 

The remarks were made recently by the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement Executive Director, Nalini Singh who participated in an intergenerational panel at the Let’s Talk Period festival organised by Deaf girl participants of the FWRM  Grow. Inspire. Relate. Lead. Succeed - GIRLS programme in Lautoka last week.

The cohort of Deaf girls who also attend Gospel School of the Deaf, are Menstrual Health trainers who designed and facilitated the festival held at the Tanoa Waterfront Hotel on Friday, May 19, 2023. The event is a build-up to the World Menstrual Hygiene Day that is annually commemorated on May 28.

The inaugural Let’s Talk Period festival was also the first time the FWRM GIRLS Programme convened a Deaf girl-led space with other hearing girls in the Western Division and was supported by the Australian Government as part of the Pacific Menstrual Health Network in partnership with Water Aid Australia. 

“I am very lucky that I am brought up in a family where I have the support of my father when it comes to my own periods. Today, I felt good to be in a space where I was confident and helped facilitate the programme as a Deaf girl and to be able to share my experiences and what I’ve learnt with hearing girls, as I had been learning through other interactive spaces through FWRM,” Deaf girl participant, Adi Lusi said. 

Ms Singh and other panelists shared their experiences on menstruation and puberty, the taboo subjects of girls’ reproductive health and associated issues in their own homes and communities, the importance of support from family members, the financial costs of menstruation and how they addressed the stigma associated with a girl’s period.   

“Normalise open discussions on menstruation in your own homes. This is a lived reality for most women and girls so why should we not talk about it? Almost half of Fiji’s population are women and girls so why should we then not ensure that access to quality sanitary products and care is prioritised in all health budget plans?,” Ms Singh said. 

The event also included information booths set up by the Deaf girl participants where they were able to share information about menstruation to the hearing girls. 

Discussions at the event also brought to light the multifaceted need to addressing girls' menstrual health using the example of a Deaf girl living on an island having different needs from a Deaf girl residing in an urban area - a “one size fits all” approach is will not ensure that different needs are met. 

Another girl participant, Sheree, said, “It was an exciting programme and I really loved the way the event was set up and how information was exchanged during the panel and even at the information booths. My message to other girls is, please don’t be shy to talk about menstruation in your families. It is a normal part of a girl’s life so if you’re scared or you don’t know much about periods, talk to your friends, and talk to someone you trust, speak up so you can get the information you need.” 

FWRM reiterates the need to build the agency of girls, young women and aging women to make informed decisions about their own menstrual and reproductive health. We continue to advocate for gender responsive sustainable policies that can address intergenerational needs on advancing menstrual health in Fiji. 

 

Ends

For media queries, please contact FWRM Communications Officer Serelisoni Moceica on 8677330 or email