5 Instagram Accounts Tackling Menstrual Stigma

While the silence and stigma surrounding menstruation may be far from broken, it is definitely showing cracks. Here are 5 taboo-tackling accounts to follow to help celebrate and normalize menstruation – one double tap at a time.

1. Pink Bits

This Australian artist posts illustrations to celebrate “the bits and shapes we’re told to hide”. Period-positive, body-positive and just really cute, these illustrations will cheer up any Insta feed.

A post shared by Pink Bits (@pink_bits) on

2. Clue

Clue is a period tracking app and an encyclopedia of informative articles on menstrual and reproductive health. On Instagram, they share some of the lastest scientific research in a way that’s informative and easy to understand.

3. Bloody Good Period

Bloody Good Period provide menstrual supplies for asylum seekers, refugees & those who can’t afford them by collecting donations and distributing via drop-in centres and food banks across the UK. On social media they’re opening up conversations by posting reminders that periods are natural, NOT shameful.

4. Menstrugram

This Berlin-based art project is a “rebellion against the taboo”. The photographs are all of menstrual blood, which – being really honest – I found quite shocking at first. This made me realise I’d never ever seen an image of real period blood before, and proves the entire point of the project.

A post shared by Menstru gram (@menstrugram) on

5. BLOB.gram

Feeling tired of the ‘empowered’ and ‘positive’ period campaigns they kept seeing, menstrual and sexual health specialists Terri & Lily created BLOB – a space to acknowledge that periods can have a negative side too. Their Instagram is a joyful feed of frank, honest and inclusive info on periods, menstrual and sexual health.


Am I missing something? Who would you add to this list? Leave a comment if you have any suggestions, and make sure you’re following Girls’ Globe on Instagram too!

Inès Seddiki on Social Justice in the French Suburbs

For the first episode of We Belong Podcast, we travelled to France to meet Inès Seddiki, founder of GHETT’UP.

Inès is a young French-Moroccan activist and Corporate Social Responsibility professional living in the suburbs of Paris. In the 1980s, her parents immigrated to France in pursuit of ideals of liberty and equality. However, Inés faced injustice from a very young age, and it motivated her to take action. Since 2016, Ghett’up has impacted more than 2,000 young people in the suburbs of Paris.

In our conversation with Inès, we discussed the importance of owning our story and identities, what it means to grow up in a suburb and how to turn stigma into strength.

Episode available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Anchor, Youtube and at the bottom of this post.


We Belong is the podcast that gives a voice to the New Daughters of Europe. Yasmine Ouirhrane, appointed expert by the European Union and the African Union, hosts this series of conversations with young women who represent the diversity of Europe. She talks to women who are breaking stereotypes, navigating multiple identities, and challenging the conventional wisdom of what it means to belong.

As an advocate for social and gender justice in Europe, Yasmine Ouirhrane was awarded Young European of the Year 2019 by the Schwarzkopf Foundation. She was also named EDD Young Leader by the European Commission and is an expert on Peace & Security at the AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub. She is an award-winning fellow at Women Deliver and a member of the Gender Innovation Agora at UN Women.

The Podcast is produced by Les Cavalcades.

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Nurses & Midwives Can Make Abortions Safer in India

In India, abortion under certain conditions has been legal for almost five decades. You would imagine that further legalising abortion would make it safer and more accessible for all. However, this has not been the case.

Abortion is a complicated subject within Indian society. It can be challenging for people to seek safe abortion services due to service providers’ personal beliefs, societal stigma, and lack of knowledge. But even for those able to overcome these challenges, safe and affordable abortion remains elusive.

Part of the problem is that Indian public healthcare systems face an acute shortage of staff and infrastructure in all corners of the country.

Hospitals with advanced facilities are generally present at district level. However, remote rural areas with limited connectivity are more likely to rely on Primary Health Centres (PHCs). The government-ordained one-doctor-minimum at all PHCs remains unmet in most regions.

Without doctors, people run the risk of unsafe or precarious abortions by self-treating or consulting untrained providers. When they do seek allopathic medicine, it is often through pharmacies where shopkeepers give medicines without proper guidance. 

Appointing enough trained doctors to PHCs and clinics is a protracted process. However, there are other ways to mitigate the incidence of unsafe abortions. One is to employ nurses and Auxillary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) to administer safe abortion services in remote places. These trained practitioners can task-share in areas where supply falls short of demand. The World Health Organisation (WHO) deems this an “increasingly important public health strategy”.

Data shows that 87% of all abortions happen within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy (first trimester). A first trimester abortion generally requires a ‘Medical Abortion’, rather than an invasive procedure. This involves the pregnant person taking a combination of two drugs in the form of tablets and monitoring consequent bleeding. The process can be easily managed by most people at home and does not necessarily require a health facility. If, in rare cases, emergency services are required, these can be accessed at some 24/7 PHCs and/or Community Health Centres (CHCs).  

Nurses form the biggest healthcare providers’ workforce and are involved in all reproductive healthcare service provisions.

This includes independently managing normal deliveries, assisting C-sections and even surgical abortions. ANMs are trained to provide maternal and child health and family planning related resources to the community at the grassroots level. They also give vaccinations to newborns and nutritional advice to new mothers.

Therefore, adding Medical Abortion assistance to ANMs’ vocation is not a stretch. In fact, it is beneficial to include abortions in the larger ethos of reproductive healthcare. Not only will it make abortion more accessible in remote areas, it will play a critical role in normalising it. Safe abortion advocates have identified the significance of making abortion-related information just as readily available as labour and childcare information.

Providing a holistic basket of choice to a pregnant person ensures that they possess the agency to make informed choices about their own life.

For abortion to be recognised as a valid choice during pregnancy, it is imperative to ensure a certain quality of care. As health workers from within the community, ANMs are more approachable and readily available. Similarly, in poorly-staffed health facilities in rural parts of the country, nurses are often the first point of contact with patients – including abortion seekers. They can provide the necessary patient-centred care that makes abortions more comfortable.

Amendments to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act of 1971, which initially legalised abortion in India, are currently pending discussion in the upper house of the Indian Parliament. The proposed changes aim to improve access by increasing the gestational limit for legal abortions. Several important aspects are missed out of the proposed amendments, though. There is no mention of expanding the provider base, for instance. 

We think this is a critical time to consider the abortion provider base, since the Indian Government is currently setting up a pilot curriculum for specialised nursing courses in midwifery. Nepal, a neighbouring country with a similar socio-economic context and comparable health infrastructure, has already authorised training programmes for nurses on providing abortion services. Nurses who have received this training are now successfully managing abortions. We asked one nurse about contributing to comprehensive abortion care. She highlighted the myriad ways in which nurses can improve services:

“Nurses should be trained and legalized to provide abortion services just like doctors. [They come in contact] with the clients and patients more, patients feel more comfortable with them. [Health] emergencies are the results of inaccess, lack of awareness, societal stigma and poverty. Who would be better than a provider nurse of a local place to fill those gaps? Health education and timely safe abortion provision can prevent the situation getting worse, it can prevent health deterioration.”

Nurses and midwives around the globe help create a care-centered health system that affirms a rights-based approach to healthcare.

It is only natural, then, to place them at the forefront of task-sharing for sexual and reproductive care that encompasses safe abortions. On this World Health Day, WHO commemorate the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife by highlighting the indispensable contribution of nurses and midwives to health systems worldwide. In that spirit, we hope to recognise their efforts by advocating for their inclusion in rights-affirming abortion service delivery. We believe that this will benefit society in significant ways. 

The YP Foundation is a youth run and led organisation that supports and develops youth leadership to advance rights of young women, girls and other marginalised youth. It strives to make access to sexual and reproductive health and rights easier for young people, including the right to safe abortion. The YP Foundation is a Safe Abortion Action Fund grantee partner.

The Cost of Sharing My Mental Health Story

Here at Girls’ Globe, we believe that storytelling is a way to bring about real change in the world. It’s something I believe in wholeheartedly. 

However, there is one issue in particular that I have written extensively about. I sometimes wonder if I should actually write about it. What are the real costs of doing so for me and the people in my life?

The issue is mental health.

The internet – social media in particular – has made talking about our mental health struggles easier and more accessible than ever before. Without leaving our homes, which we may be bound to due to anxiety or depression, we can share our experiences, read others’ stories, and connect with people who understand our struggles. We can feel, even if just a little, less alone.

Sharing publicy about issues that are still taboo and stigmatized in modern society can come with costs and consequences. Online trolls are always ready to dismiss or doubt our experiences, struggles and accounts of what has happened to us. 

Ever since I wrote my first post about my mental health on girlsglobe.org over two years ago, I’ve questioned my decision to be so open in such a public way about something I’ve hidden from others my whole life.

And then I wrote about it again – and then again and again and again. I wrote publicly, on the internet, for all to see. I also started sharing my mental health struggles on social media – sometimes just to my friends and at other times more widely.


Every time I press ‘send’, I feel a wave of anxiety but also a sense of relief.

On the one hand, writing publicly about my mental health struggles has been incredibly healing. It has helped me connect with others who are also struggling. I’ve received heart-warming comments from people thanking me for talking about something so stigmatized and telling me that my experience resonates with them.

On the other, writing about my struggles with anxiety and depression make me feel vulnerable and I fear people’s reaction. I fear what people who know me personally may think about me, since they’ll usually see me looking and acting so ‘well’ and ‘normal’.

I fear that sharing my personal stories of mental illness may harm my academic and work life, and even personal relationships.

What if a future date looks me up online, reads one of my mental health stories, and decides he doesn’t want to go out with me anymore? What are the costs of giving someone I’m still getting to know in person access to such a deep and intimate glimpse into my life online?

People have told me I’m brave and strong for being so honest and open about my mental health. This has been crucial to my healing. To talk about my anxiety and depression as something outside of myself has helped me realize that I’m more than my mental health issues (even though I still struggle to fully accept this).

But talking about it is still hard.

I still worry about how sharing my struggles may affect my life. Will it cost me friendships and romantic relationships? Will it cost me respect from colleagues and employers?

I don’t have a concrete answer, but I do know this: I want to live in a world where sharing our struggles about mental health or any other issue considered stigmatized will be accepted and respected. I want to be around people who accept vulnerability as a strength and not a weakness.

Most of all, I want to live what I say. And so, scared and all, I’ll keep sharing my story, because it’s one of the ways I’ve been healing. And maybe, reading my story may help someone in their healing journey. That makes all the costs feel worth it.

Improving Menstrual Hygiene in Zimbabwe’s Schools

My name is Marvellous Chimhutu and I am a student at Young Africa Academy, located in the Epworth suburb in Zimbabwe. I am a 15-year-old girl, the eldest in a family of five (two boys, two girls, and our mother Lisana) and currently doing my Form Three secondary education.

I am part of a group of learners who have been participating in CARE-supported guidance and counseling lessons since Form One.

Where I come from, people do not talk about pads and menstruation.

It is considered taboo to discuss these issues, and for a girl like me it requires bravery to ask for help. I discovered that this was not unique to me and my family. Many girls at school have challenges preparing for our first periods and we aren’t taught how to manage them.

Marvellous Chumhutu. Photo by CARE.

Like all other girls of my age, when I started having my period I felt stuck and didn’t know what to do. While l was very excited at the thought of growing up, I didn’t know how to manage it and was afraid of being laughed at if I spoiled my uniform at school. One time when it happened, I hid myself in the toilet waiting for the bell to ring so that I could escape and go home. I stayed at home for the whole week until the period ended.

What excites me and my friends is that the lessons we’ve received have raised my awareness of adolescent sexual reproductive health – among other issues and needs specific to being a girl. The most common issues have been around menstrual hygiene. The major challenge for me was getting pads to use, and then to know where I could discard the used ones at both at home and at school.

Our teacher, Ms. Warikandwa, noticed that most girls would be absent for days when they were on their periods, so she had to do mass counseling sessions to teach us how to prepare. I learned to keep myself clean. Later in the term, we all had lessons about menstrual hygiene, both boys and girls. We now know that it is a natural process. We have also tackled the topic in science and I proudly aced it.

The boys have stopped laughing at us when we spoil our uniforms (they now find the teacher for us).

We used CARE’s Community Score Card (CSC) as a platform to present our need for menstrual hygiene support from our families and at school. We were able to demonstrate to our parents, teachers, and school administration that periods were contributing to absenteeism and poor academic results among girls. After that, we made plans to construct an incinerator, install mirrors in the toilets, and for the school to keep emergency sanitary wear for us at school in case we need them.

The school was very supportive, and I feel proud that I was one of the advocates in this process. Now we have special bins to dispose of used sanitary wear and an incinerator.

My confidence has improved when I participate in class and sports because I can manage my periods.

I am also happy that I can also share information to help my sisters and friends at home. l thank my teacher for being there for me, I have all the information I need. I wish every girl could be empowered with the same knowledge and information that I have.

Talking Frankly: Vaginas & Menstrual Hygiene

I have an insatiable urge to persuade my sisters around the world to tear off shame with all their strength. I yearn to tell them to deny society the privilege of silencing us when when we want to talk about things that matter. Things like vaginas and menstruation.

Here is the real deal.

We can crush the walls erected around us in the name of culture simply by talking about the well-being of our vaginas. During menstruation, things can get a little bit messy down there, and so you need proper sanitary wear to maintain freshness and hygiene.

It’s absurd that around the world, many are still found wanting of these necessities. Can you imagine the trauma women have to go through? There is a dire need to talk about vaginal health and hygiene during menstruation. It’s only by doing so that we will terminate the silence and the myths.

The vagina is a part of the body which must be hidden from view. It’s not something a woman can easily speak about – that’s how we are socialized. Therefore, over the years, generations have been enduring menstruation in silence and shame, and without proper sanitary wear.

But has the silence been beneficial? Certainly not. Our misery around menstruation is utter, lonely and complete.

This is why I plead with my Zimbabwean government – and other governments across the globe that have remained ignorant – to prioritize menstrual hygiene.

In Zimbabwe, the provision of free sanitary products – especially in rural and marginalized areas where women and girls live in poverty – should be a central focus.

Vaginas are naturally moist. This means that women without access to safe sanitary products during menstruation become at risk of disease and infection. I wonder, then, about the vaginal health of girls and women who are forced for whatever reason to use cow dung, leaves or grass?

This seems like a good moment to say that if it has ever crossed your mind that talking about the hygiene of vaginas during menstruation is disgusting, wait! What’s really disgusting is the fact that our governments are able to provide free condoms of all shapes and sizes, but have the audacity to reiterate that they can’t afford to provide free sanitary products.

Menstruation is not a choice.

You can’t wake up one day and decide not to have your period. It will happen whether you like it or not, and whether you’re equipped to deal with it or not.

Refusing to prioritize menstrual hygiene is a sure-fire way to further perpetuate gender inequality. In many parts of the world, women and girls constitute a larger percentage of those who are economically dependent. Many simply cannot afford the cost of sanitary wear throughout their menstruating years. Denying access to basic menstrual hygiene products impedes on individuals’ well-being as equal human beings.

The scales of imbalance need to be tilted and menstrual hygiene must be recognized as a priority in order to do so.

The girls and women using cow dung, leaves or grass during menstruation are, in most cases, predominantly poor, geographically and socially isolated from the rest of the world and lacking in political power. It is important for charitable organizations, advocacy campaigns and governments to come up with interventions that are compatible with their circumstances. A ‘one size fits all’ approach won’t work.

Although some of Zimbabwe’s most marginalized communities are still conservative, I can confidently argue that within these communities there are many individuals who are eager for change. They want it so badly, but they just need that push of support to get the work done.

I firmly believe that ending the silence and shame surrounding menstruation is possible, one community at a time.

Along with universal access to products, what if women could be empowered with knowledge to make simple handmade sanitary pads using low cost materials? I think it would be ground breaking.

The problem of unhygienic menstruation can be solved if practical interventions are executed well and the cultural taboos are challenged. Do you agree? I’d love to hear your perspective.

?Read more menstruation posts on girlsglobe.org?

?Check out 
Girls’ Globe’s Menstrual Hygiene Day Facebook Live, where we challenged taboos and stigma by busting common myths around menstruation?