The Latest

Spotlight on Life Skills: When Menstruation is Taboo

July 23, 2018

When was the last time you overheard a teen girl comfortably talk about menstruation?

Give girls a voice.

 

This rarely discussed topic often sits in the corners of whispered conversations, discussed with blushed cheeks and few questions.

Yet, in many cultures around the world, including Cambodia, menstruation remains taboo, leaving girls to navigate puberty on their own.

“Women, girls, or anyone in the community for that matter, rarely discuss sexual health,” says Soveun Sok, a local housewife.

 

With lack of conversation comes problems. Misunderstandings emerge around the body,  sanitary practices, and how to care for infections. 

At worst, Cambodian girls end up seeking help from the wrong hands, taking improper medications that can lead to further complications.

 

However, Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program is changing that.

In today's life skills session, program participants sit around the room to learn about puberty. The social mobilizer at the head of the circle asks girls to share their preconceived notions about menstruation.

"Does anyone want to share how they felt about their first period?"

The room falls silent. Slowly, a few hands raise with blushed cheeks. This response is quite common in the early stages of the lesson.

“I found it very difficult to open up about any topic that involves sexual health, because none of my family members have ever talked about it,” says Kimhorng Vor, a Girls' Education Program participant.

Other girls mention fears that someone might notice when they're on their period. To solve this matter, the social mobilizer breaks down the basics of menstruation, discussing everything from how to use sanitary napkins and tampons to healthy hygiene habits.

“After a while, students are even able to share their knowledge with the wider community through Room to Read’s Medical Camp. It's been a very helpful resource.” Nead Bunna Girls' Education Program Manager

After the class, girls are introduced to a book called “Growth and Change" for further exploration. They're also invited to discuss concerns about their bodies with a social mobilizer, and are introduced to a local health care center should they experience any abnormalities.

“Through life skills classes on menstruation, girls are able to comfortably get more information about their own bodies. They also pass on this knowledge to their younger sisters or other family members, so they become aware of these changes at an early age,” says Nead Bunna, Girls’ Education Program Manager of Room to Read Cambodia.

Want to give more girls access to life skills?

Become a monthly donor and just $6.25/month       funds one year of life skills education for a Girls' Education Program participant.

Related Articles

How Saluom Became an Inspiration to her Village


November 14, 2017

Girls' Education, Cambodia

Read More >

Measuring Life Skills in Cambodia


October 12, 2017

Girls' Education, Cambodia

Read More >

Seab's Literacy Reroutes Family's Chain of Child Labor


May 13, 2017

Girls' Education, Cambodia

Read More >

TATCHA + Room to Read — A Beautiful Partnership to Educate Girls Globally


April 14, 2017

Girls' Education, Cambodia

Read More >

How These Two Cambodian Schoolgirls Became Inspiring Role Models for Other Girls...


July 30, 2015

Girls' Education, Cambodia

Read More >

First Lady Of The United States Michelle Obama And First Lady Of Cambodia Bun Ra...


March 23, 2015

Press Releases, Cambodia

Read More >

The villagers tell her she’s aiming too high, but First Lady Michelle Obama tell...


March 22, 2015

Girls' Education, Cambodia

Read More >

Michelle Obama visits Cambodia for 'Let Girls Learn' Asia trip


March 21, 2015

Girls' Education, Cambodia

Read More >

Guest Blog: Atlassian Foundation Sees Their Investments at Work in Cambodia


December 11, 2013

Girls' Education, Asia

Read More >

In Honor of Malala Day: The Power of Perseverance


July 12, 2013

Girls' Education, Asia

Read More >

Girls' Education Program Alumna in Cambodia Finds Success After Graduation


April 29, 2013

Girls' Education, Cambodia

Read More >

Invest in children's education today.