RM10k grant for schools championing female hygiene

KUALA LUMPUR, 17 May 2023:

RM10,000 cash grants have been handed out to reward school programmes and ideas that empower women as well as enable dreams of girls to help inspire more women to pursue their goals without being held back by their periods.

Running since 2018, the Kotex She Can Fund 2021/2022 edition saw teachers across 129 schools nationwide participating – and 10 were selected.

Kimberly-Clark Malaysia marketing director Arvind Iyer said in a statement: ““These initiatives include workshops and talks to build physical, emotional and intellectual self-discipline and confidence as well as to upgrade school amenities such as counselling rooms, knowledge portals and toilets.”

For this competition, teachers guided students aged between 13 and 17 to participate in the interactive online menstrual health management education portal approved by the Ministry of Education and endorsed by the National Population and Family Planning Board.

“This menstrual hygiene education programme is so critical in helping young women understand how periods are tied to reproductive health in a scientific manner and the changes that would occur to their bodies,” explained Iyer.

“We want them to also be aware of the implications of unsanitary practices and how it can lead to infections and even broader health and environmental risks to the community.”

Noting the issue of period poverty goes deeper than access to sanitary pads, he said it also includes the lack of education on period management and menstrual waste management.

He said the lack of awareness leads to hurtful stereotypes which not only affect women’s self-belief but also affect the behaviour of society towards women’s issues.

He reiterated that last year Kotex Period Poverty & Stigma Study among 746 girls aged between 10 and 24 revealed that more than half wanted to skip school all the time or at times when menstruating. Some 68% still believed menstruation to be a taboo subject and past anecdotal studies alluded towards women being held back by their period for fear of being teased.

“When a woman is associated with stigma the moment she experiences her first period, she may think of herself as less capable than her male counterpart, ” noted Rajalakshmi Ganesan, educational psychologist and programme director for Bachelor of Psychology at Taylor’s University School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“If period is seen as something that causes women to be cranky, dirty or moody, then periods will be perceived as something to be feared. If left unchecked, it can result in greater gender inequality and disparity within the society.”