55% of boys think their periods are dirty

Men find menstruation filthy, embarrassing, and sometimes even disgusting. This is evidenced by research conducted by Plan International on 4,127 boys and men (15-24 years old) in Brazil, Indonesia, Uganda and the Netherlands. this is bloody honest The research painfully exposes the deep-rooted taboos surrounding menstruation. Menstrual disappointment has far-reaching consequences for girls’ well-being and school performance. The search was conducted before Menstrual Health Day On May 28, the day attention is drawn to the discussion of the menstrual cycle.

Worldwide, 2 billion women and girls menstruate every month*. You might say it’s a common topic of conversation. Nothing could be further from the truth: More than 1 in 3 boys (37%) in the survey think you should keep your period secret. Reason: “Menstruation is a woman’s and girl’s business.”

Main conclusions from the report

  • Boys associate menstruation with “dirty” (55%) – this percentage in the Netherlands is 37% – “shameful” (31%) and “disgusting” (38%), but it is also “normal” (95%) and “healthy” (85%).
  • 37% of boys think their menstrual cycle should be kept secret.
  • Almost a quarter of boys (23%) say they do not know about menstruation or do not know at all.
  • More than two-thirds (70%) of boys indicated that they had heard boys or men make ugly and negative comments about their period. 25% of these comments in the Netherlands come from male teachers.
  • Buying a sanitary towel or going to the toilet with it is embarrassing for girls, according to 29% and 41% of boys and men, respectively.
  • More than half (54%) of Dutch boys have never bought sanitary pads or tampons.
  • A large group of Indonesian boys and young men believe that girls and women cannot go to school/work (58%) or places of worship (73%).
  • 55% of Ugandan boys and men do not think it is acceptable for a girl to remain unmarried after her first period.
  • 92% of men want to normalize the menstrual cycle. Through better information at school (72%), conversations at home with both parents (69%) and through the media (64%).

You miss school a week a month if you’re menstruating

Because menstrual health Not a topic for conversation, millions of girls miss school a few days each month. Extreme shame, harassment, lack of sanitary towels (unavailable or expensive) and decent sanitation causes girls to miss several school days a month. Sometimes they even drop out of school altogether. In the workplace, women are more likely to relate to illness than to talk to their supervisor about fatigue or heavy menstruation. They also often do not contact the doctor in time. This happens all over the world, including the Netherlands, and leads to persistent gender inequality. This is very dangerous and also a man’s business.

Mascha Singeling, Menstrual Health Expert at Plan International: This study shows that boys in almost all four countries hold the same opinion about the menstrual cycle, with the difference that the consequences for girls in a country like Uganda are far-reaching. For example, when the first menstruation means that girls are officially from that moment on, and therefore ready to marry and have children. Boys indicate that they want to break taboos, but are unconsciously contributing to maintaining discriminatory norms. Discussing menstruation is a matter for everyone. women and men.”


Read more about Plan International’s work on menstrual health

Information, reusable sanitary towels and educational materials

Plan International believes that girls and women should be able to make their own decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. In countries where Plan International is working on Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH), we discuss menstruation to remove shame. Boys and men are actively involved in this. Girls and boys, teachers and parents receive information about their menstrual cycle, and Plan International provides training in making reusable sanitary pads and lobbies for menstrual health Standard part of the curriculum.

* Non-binary people and transgender men can menstruate.

For more information, please contact Christa Gray-Nooitgedagt at 06-51791455 or Charlotte Smit at 06-81619414 or email pers@planinternational.nl

Link to the full Blood Honest report: The Blood Honest Research.

international plan

Plan International is an international development organization directed at children with no political, religious or commercial objectives. Plan International strives for a just world that promotes children’s rights and equality for girls and young women. Plan International contributes to this by supporting girls and young women with education, increasing their chances of earning an income and therefore independent living. In addition, we change the prevailing opinions and stereotypes about girls and boys. We work closely with the youth involved and ensure their voices are included in the decision-making process. This is not only a matter of equity, but also important for achieving gender equality. Plan International operates in 75 countries around the world.

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