Dear Schools, We Need Pad Dispensers in Our Bathrooms

By: Rawan Aboseif

Try speaking in the middle of a room full of people aged thirteen to twenty about periods. You will see some people giggle, others whisper. Girls’ faces will turn red and will slowly tuck their heads between their hands if they can. I personally recall the first time we talked about menstruation in religion class; all the girls’ heads were between their arms as they slept on the desks. Meanwhile, the guys started giggling and whispering to each other. After class, however, was much worse. The guys ran around calling us “يا بتوع الدم الملوث” which translates to the producers of unhygienic/dirty blood. The girls were called that for almost two days; needless to say that they looked at where our reproductive systems are supposed to be. At that time, all the girls were completely shy of something called “period”. The boys were immature and bullies, and we all tried to fit in in our own ways. Another incident was when a guy pulled a pad out of a girl’s bag in the middle of the hallway, completely humiliating her, or so we thought at the time.

First off, periods are nothing to be ashamed off. Women have the gift of life. Women are touched by angels and are able to carry souls inside a tiny organ. They endure the pain of menstrual cramps, pregnancy pain, contractions, labor, and, most importantly, the drastic mood swings that come from the ever-changing progesterone and estrogen levels.  Yes, it takes a male’s sperm to produce a life, but a women’s advanced organ brings life to this world. However, ladies come to realize this after the age of sixteen. As for men, they can reach their late twenties and still feel disgusted by their mom’s, wife’s, or sister’s blood stains or closed, used pads in the bathroom basket. They sometimes even gag when the topic is even brought up. Let me tell you one thing, that should never happen.

Changing a man’s point of view on periods is not our issue now. Ladies hit puberty during their school years, and, since they spend most of their time in school, they might get them while they are at school. They will start freaking outa little bit when they get it, mostly it is because of the new transition phase they are going through; specially when they do not have their moms around to comfort them. Since period is a gift that keeps on giving, walking all day without a pad on will cause that tiny blood stain on a girl’s underwear to penetrate to her pants; thus, she will have a much more serious issue to deal with. How would have we avoided all this? By simply, having pads at schools.

Most Egyptian public schools do not have pads at all. Going to private/international schools, you will either find them available in the clinic for you to pick up or, in some schools, buy (you read that one correctly). Discussing the fact that they are only available at the clinic, that is usually a little far away from the classrooms and the bathrooms near them. Also, you need a pass to go there. Plus, the clinic might have younger students, guys, or even other girls in there. As I said, periods are nothing to be ashamed of. However, some people wouldn’t like random people to know they are on their periods, even if those people are ladies. Some women feel uncomfortable talking about their period or asking for pads in the presence of guys. One more problem, when it comes to buying them, what if that girl does not have any money on her. Does she have to borrow money from people around her in order to get a pad? Which brings us to our main point: schools need to have pad dispensers in their bathrooms.

Indeed, most schools care about educating their students and providing them with the basic hygienic necessities, besides of course intellectual ones. Still, schools need to pay for their employees, and school owners still need to get a profit out of their work. Sanitary pads vary in price, but a large pack never exceeds twenty pounds and has almost twelve to eighteen pads. Putting them in a pad dispenser, just like the regular tissues, for period emergencies. Let me just emphasize on one more point. Women cannot determine for sure the day they will get their periods. Yes, there are applications that are supposed to state the dates women are menstruating and ovulating; however, they do not determine it for a fact. Your period might come early or late depending on the secretion of hormones, your stress, or even your eating habits. Also, if you take a certain medication or vitamin, your period might skip a month, come early, or late. So, a woman cannot always know that it’s her first day of period. A suggestion might be carrying around a pad with you just in case. Despite the fact that women, specially ladies in schools, use their bags to carry around lots of heavy stuff and their bags are accessible to other, one pad won’t be enough to get her through an entire day. Thus, she will be needing extra pads.

Let’s take into consideration the female workers at school. They get their periods too and need pads as well. Despite a fact that a girl with stained pants is going to get embarrassed for sure and see that it is a form of social humiliation, a teacher with blood stains will get as embarrassed. Also, in what way is a girl wearing pants that do not correspond to her uniform or wrapping a jacket around her waist better than having pads in school? Teachers could face such an issue as well and have to go around the school campus hiding their blood stain, that is if the blood stain does not penetrate through their jackets or new pants as well, as you may or may not know, bleeding does not stop once you change into different clothes.

Up until now, I have been talking about reasons why you should have pad dispensers at schools. Now, let’s ask the real question; why wouldn’t you have them? I don’t see any financial reasons, as there are cheap, efficient brands. Also, it won’t be disrespectful or shameful in any way to anyone; as a matter of fact, it will be very helpful and mature. Periods always had a stigma around them. It is often perceived as nasty, disgusting, or secretive (this word can be the most respectful way some guys would address periods). Putting pad dispensers in every bathroom in school will remove that stigma. Although the pad dispensers will be only in the ladies’ room, the idea itself would be very useful, and in Egypt specifically, the word travels really fast about anything. One more thing, why can’t you have pad dispensers if it will only be in the ladies’ room. Ladies are already familiar with the whole concept of pads and their usage, so it won’t harm anyone.

Such a simple movement can start a spark of maturity and enlightenment. Today, the school introduces pads that are freely and casually placed in the ladies’ room. Then, maybe they will start introducing sessions on removing stigmas off of natural, God-given cycles. This school will start removing the dark clouds off of the brains of its boys that has been placed on it from a different generation or just by their own stigma impacted ideas. The most important impact will be for girls. They will feel very comfortable about their periods. They will walk through it without shame or disgrace. They will no longer see it as something dirty; instead, they will realize how much of an absolute gift it is, and will no longer be ashamed of a crucial part of their womanhood.

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