The taboo on menstruation is a worldwide scourge. And although tongues are starting to let go, talking about it remains complicated in many countries, including France. One of the reasons? The lack, even the absence of school education on this topic. In order to raise awareness among young and old and to remind people that menstruation is clean and natural, the Rules Elementary association has just launched its first festival on this topic.
According to a recent survey by the developmental NGO Plan International France, more than half of young French girls consider menstruation a taboo at school. Even worse, one in ten girls in India believes menstruation is a disease. Elementary Rules, the first French association fighting menstrual poverty, is aware of the long road it takes to counter these prejudices and has just launched its first festival dedicated to menstruation. Her name ? shameless. Objective: Break the many taboos on the subject.
This educational event took place from 27 to 29 May 2022 in Paris, on the occasion of World Menstrual Hygiene Day. During these three days of awareness, several fun workshops were offered: a screening of short films followed by debates, animations and roundtables on different themes related to rules, such as ecology, history, sexuality or even education.
Deconstruct childhood prejudices
Raising awareness among young people is precisely one of the primary missions of Elementary Rules. Because for Laury Gaube, director of communication and awareness within the association, “the vision changes to talk about it, but not necessarily to access information.”
“There is a certain evolution in it, but more in naming the rules, naming them, which we hardly spoke about before. This does not prevent the indignities, the ridicule that still exist on the subject.
Indeed, in many countries, including France, there is a stigma surrounding menstruation, which continues to reinforce taboos. In Nepal, for example, young girls and women are forced to isolate themselves in huts during their period, while in India three quarters of school girls are not given a classroom during this period.
According to the latest figures collected by OpinionWay as part of the association’s annual barometer, 60% of young French girls and women have had no formal education about menstruation, almost one in two people have already missed school because of menstrual pain or a third party has already been bullied or discriminated against because of their period.
Another important figure, almost 100% of adolescents aged 16 to 19 want menstrual education to be integrated into their school curriculum. In order to meet the needs and expectations of young people, Rules Elementary carries out various actions in schools. In particular, the association offers awareness workshops from CM2 up to and including the final year. “With high school students, we discuss taboos, the use of safeguards, learned ideas about rules and leave time for speech and anonymous questions. †
“The idea is to ask ourselves collectively, with young people, about their relationship to the rules.”
For more information about the ground rules and the awareness actions, go here.