Since 2014, May 28 has been recognized as Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD), to bring awareness to menstrual inequity. Thus, in honor of MHD, on May 29, The Dignified Girl Project (DGP), a non-profit organization that aims to empower adolescent girls by educating them about their menstrual cycle, presented its annual My Period My Pride (MPMP) seminar. Hosted by Phillipa Dean, DGP founder and executive director, alongside cohosts Allicia Rolle, DGP director of distribution, and Alayna Darling, DGP volunteer, the seminar – which featured guest speakers from the medical community to the natural health and wellness sector – went live via Zoom at 10 a.m. sharp, to an audience of just over 130 attendees – among them, seven males – with the help of Fincastle Media Group, one of the program’s three major sponsors.
“Period poverty, which affects half a billion people around the world, is a term used to describe when a person is unable to access safe and clean hygiene products needed to manage their period with dignity,” said Dean. “As a result, The Dignified Girl Project hosts annually the My Period My Pride seminar. Every month, we provide, without discrimination, free menstrual kits that include pads, pantyliners and soap, along with undergarment kits that include new singlets, bras and underwear, which we distribute through our community partners.” Speaker presentations were separated into 30-minute sessions, which fostered an environment for open discussions and conversations about period poverty, menstrual hygiene management, and sexual reproductive health.
Kicking off the first session was Dr. Tamarra Moss of Pediatric Associates, who covered everything from defining puberty to listing the changes that occur inside and outside of the body. The pediatrician also left attendees (and parents) with tips to manage this stage of life with confidence. Following Dr. Moss was OB/GYN Dr. Inga Pratt, of Advanced Health Center, who provided insight on how to understand the menstrual cycle. Having made it through the first hour, attendees were treated to a quick educational game, via video game platform Kahoot!, where they answered questions based on the information presented thus far. The winner, Angelina Woodside, was given an Indulge box, which contained manicure and pedicure supplies.
Although DGP caters to the needs of adolescent girls, there is also room for males to become involved. This was displayed through relationship management therapist Harrison Thompson, who spoke to the role of men and boys in reducing menstrual stigma. “We have to stop expecting ourselves from women. Emotions and feelings aren’t wrong, they’re a normal part of life,” said Thompson. “If we as men don’t create safe spaces for our women to have their feelings and go through their feminine experiences, we are a part of the problem.”
While men and boys learned a gamut of information about the menstrual cycle and how to support the girls and women in their life, Denise Major of Bahamas Sexual Health & Rights Association (BaSHRA), had a message just for parents. “Ask your child what he/she knows about the menstrual cycle. Create a safe space and let them know that it is normal,” said Major. “Take your daughter for her physical and empower her to ask questions. Always use clear language and correct anatomical terms and let it be an ongoing conversation.”
Alexandria Johnson, of Nature by Nature, shared natural remedies such as the use of cinnamon and peppermint tea for pain management during one’s period.n‘What’s My Fit?’, a discussion on the pros, cons and application of period products, was led by Meredith Johnson, co-founder of Women’s Haven, a Caribbean-owned brand of organic feminine products.
An engineer, Meredith explained the benefits of organic feminine products, while also providing a description of a few Women’s Haven products such as their pads, liners, menstrual cup, bamboo wipes and deodorant (which does not contain antiperspirant). There was a quick giveaway of a gift certificate to Pinkk Suga Kreations, one of the event’s four gift sponsors, as well as two sample products, courtesy of Women’s Haven. Aldise Williams, DGP volunteer, assisted by fellow DGP volunteer Moana Maynard, led the seminar’s final session – a demonstration on the period panty, washable pad and menstrual cup, with the use of a mannequin, affectionately named “Savannah”.
DGP also awarded a grand prize to randomly selected attendee Vanessa Claridge, that included its signature pad pouch, MPMP pen and notepad, MPMP menstrual hygiene guidebook, hot water bottle and a six-month supply of pads. As the event came to an end, Dean invited attendees to turn their cameras on, so that they could thank event sponsors, and list any value gained during the seminar. Most of the girls shared that they were grateful for the natural remedies for pain management, noting that they no longer have to suffer or miss school as a result of unbearable cramps; while others kept repeating throughout the event that an annual seminar is not enough, and that May 2022 is too far away for the next one. “Twenty thousand units of hygiene products in just three years could not have been accomplished without you. Your support gives women and girls access to empowerment and helps maintain their dignity, so thank you,” said Dean to attendees. After the seminar, Dean, along with DGP volunteers who were present, recorded a separate video thanking the government for its recently implemented mandate to eliminate value-added tax (VAT) from feminine hygiene products. Also serving as the event’s major sponsors were The Pad Project and Integrated Building Services (IBS), along with gift sponsors Mother Nature’s Assistance, Focal Point Creations and ASM Fab.
Video presentations by Indya Joseph, Lady Patricia Minnis, Rain Sands (Lowe’s) and a musical performance by Lyric, will be replayed on DGP’s Facebook page. While this year’s MPMP seminar was held via Zoom, due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is DGP’s hope that next year’s will revert to in-person. The Dignified Girl Project, which was founded in 2017, is on a mission to ensure that every child and adolescent female in The Bahamas has access to essential hygiene products, and the education to be empowered to make informed decisions regarding their social, psychological, biological and economic well-being, which will, in turn, prepare them to make meaningful contributions to society. Interested donors and sponsors can visit the nonprofit’s website at: www.thedignifiedgirlproject.org or contact Dean via the group’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/thedignifiedgirlproject or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.