“I’m a girl. And I’m poor. And when I get my period, it holds me back.”

    An adorable animation from Irise International, marking Global Menstrual Hygiene Day, will hit you right in the feels. It starts with a little girl, excited to be growing up and going to school, hopeful about everything her life might bring – college, a job, a home, a family – until she gets her period and everything falls apart.

    “I’ll not get a job, or a house, or a better life because I’m a girl, and I’m poor, and when I get my period, it holds me back,” says the little animated girl.

    “I’m not alone. Half the girls in East Africa are like me, missing school because sanitary towels cost too much, and we cannot ask our parents to pay, so we need a solution.”

    For Irise, a UK-based organisation, that solution could be to provide menstruation education and reusable, washable pads to girls who need them.

    According to Irise, 5 out of 10 girls missed school every month due to menstruation, contributing to the gender gap in East Africa.

    “Worldwide, millions of women and girls have no information before starting menstruation and no sanitary product, clean toilet or clean water to allow them to cope with their periods,” said Irise’s Dr Kirsten Thompson.

    Menstruation remains a taboo topic in the region, with menstruating girls said to be dirty and able to contaminate others. The negative consequences these menstruation taboos, Thompson said, are felt not just by individuals, but by communities and economies as a whole.

    You can watch the full animation here:

    Give a girl a hand up today. Donate to organisations like Irise, Afripads in Uganda, or Subzpads here in South Africa.

    – Featured image: screenshot from the video.