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How the menstrual cycle costs girls their right to education

March 09, 2017 15:22 IST

'One hundred and thirteen million adolescent girls between the ages of 12-14 in India alone are at risk of dropping out of school because of the stigma surrounding menstrual health.'

'We need to push the conversation, mobilise policy making surrounding menstrual health initiatives, support organisations who foster girls's education from the ground up, and, within our own homes, we need to rise above our puritanical bashfulness when it comes to talking about menstruation.'

Image used for representational purpose only. Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters

Actress Meghan Markle has addressed the issue of how menstruation affects the potential of women around the world, especially in India.

On the occasion of International Women's Day, March 8, the 35-year-old Suits star has penned a column in Time magazine titled How Periods Affect Potential.

Markle mentions she travelled to India in January and visited Delhi and Mumbai with World Vision to meet girls and women who directly bear the brunt of the social stigma associated with periods and how it costs them their right to education.

'One hundred and thirteen million adolescent girls between the ages of 12-14 in India alone are at risk of dropping out of school because of the stigma surrounding menstrual health,' wrote Markle.

She shares experiences where she talked with girls who were 'embarrassed to go to school during their periods. Ill-equipped with rags instead of pads, unable to participate in sports and without bathrooms available to care for themselves, they often opt to drop out of school entirely'.

Markle adds it is the lack of dialogue on menstrual health hygiene, due to the 'taboo nature of the subject', which hinders women from realising her dreams for a better future.

She also suggests solutions in the form of a holistic approach wherein 'we need to push the conversation, mobilise policy making surrounding menstrual health initiatives, support organisations who foster girls's education from the ground up and, within our own homes, we need to rise above our puritanical bashfulness when it comes to talking about menstruation.'

Markle writes that opportunities are being snatched from the hands of young girls in India and around the world because people are ashamed of discussing the topic of periods.

'Beyond India, in communities all over the globe, young girls's potential is being squandered because we are too shy to talk about the most natural thing in the world,' adds the actress.

Lauding Markle, Priyanka Chopra took to Twitter and shared the link to her story.

'Proud of all the work you do @meghanmarkle celebrating women!!!' wrote Priyanka.

To this Markle replied, 'Thank you for helping to spread the word, my friend! Means so much #IWD.'

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