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This Ecuadorian Wants Girls To Feel Comfortable With Their Period, So She Wrote A Beautiful Book To Walk Them Through It

Do you remember having your period for the first time? Were you relieved, scared, or confused? Did you think you could bleed to death, or believe that you couldn’t swim or go to gym class? Did you hear someone make joking references to women being “nasty” and think, “I’ll die of embarrassment if anyone knows?” Did you feel like you were prepared? This Ecuadorian writer wants girls to reconcile with their bodies, so she wrote a book to walk girls through menstruation.

In a world that is increasingly progressive, menstruation is often still a taboo subject.

More often than not, what information girls do hear around their bodies is often negative or incorrect, and even school health classes that discuss the subject often focus on the theoretic and biological “systems” that make it work, without ever touching on the real, practical experience of a monthly cycle. As a result a girl’s first period is still likely to be disconcerting for her.

Ecuadorian academic and menstrual educator-turned-author Paulina Vásquez Quirola wrote a book on the subject.

Taking readers on a fantastical trip between awakened states and lucid dreams she tells the story of a girl’s reconciliation with her changing body.

The book, published in Spanish, walks girls through the mystical celebrations of the female body.

From classroom scenes, where periods are shamed, to celebrations in mystical women’s circles, the book offers an alternative to the negative connotations that menstruation still holds in schools when it comes to periods.

The book talks about the ancient Andino wisdom surrounding menstruation.

‘Tribu de Mujeres’, illustrated by José Rafael Delgado, explains the wisdom of the Andes transmitted by elderly women like its protagonist, Abuela Killa. When passed on from one generation to the next, young people learn that menstruation reveals the creative urge and cyclic nature of all living beings and life itself.

Parents, friends and teachers can make the experience a much more positive experience.

By providing girls with accurate information, real-life experience, and practical advice, they can learn to view their menstrual cycle in a totally different way: as an important element of their female nature. “I discovered the importance of understanding ourselves cyclically, of understanding ourselves as part of nature, as part of a whole,” explains Vásquez. “I think that is one of the big issues. Modernity and the system in which we live makes us disconnect from ourselves, from others in the sense of community and nature, the universe, from something much bigger.”

An important way to make girls more comfortable with menstruation is to make sure that they have accurate information.

Not just about how and why it works, but also on the day-to-day, real life business of it. “We live it as something tiresome, as something exhausting. So it’s like, shit, it came! It’s time again! When is it over? Many of us have that negative view of our cycle,” says Vásquez. The more comfortable women and girls are with our own bodies, the more we will learn to handle both the first mentruation, and the ongoing experience.

Tribu de Mujeres is available in Spanish. Visit Vientres Libres to get a copy.

Middle School Girls Formed ‘The Revolutionary Girls’ Baking Society’ After Principal Refused Request To Provide Free Tampons

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Middle School Girls Formed ‘The Revolutionary Girls’ Baking Society’ After Principal Refused Request To Provide Free Tampons

In recent years, there has been a movement among women’s rights activists to educate the public about the harmful cultural stigma surrounding menstruation. This movement, that pushes for “period equity”, aims to make it possible for all women of all ages to manage their period hygiene in a humane and dignified way. Although this mission seems simple, it is actually a deep-rooted and complicated one. 

There is almost a universal culture of shame that surrounds women and menstruation. So much so that according to UNESCO worldwide, lack of access to period products is one of the reasons that many school-aged girls in developing countries miss classes. One study by UNICEF showed that 35% of girls from Niger sometimes miss classes due to the shame surrounding their periods. Other cultures across the world isolate girls from their homes and families when they’re on their periods. In conclusion, the stigma surrounding menstruation combined with structural obstacles preventing school-aged girls from easily accessing hygiene products interfere with their education. And it’s a problem.

Recently, three middle school girls went viral with their creative response to their principal’s refusal to offer free period products in the girls’ bathroom.

According to a Tweet by reproductive rights activist and President of Pro-Choice America Ilyse Hogue, students at a middle school in the U.S. “organized for free tampons in the bathroom” because their school didn’t offer any. Apparently unmoved by the students’ display of activism, the male principal the students’ request. In his response, he stated that students would “abuse the privilege” of free period products in the bathrooms. Rightfully, the students took issue with this reasoning. Three of the female students responded with an eye-catching bit of activism: none other than tampon-shaped cookies, complete with blood-like frosting and strings.  

The Tweet describing the girls’ reaction to their principal went viral, racking up over 9,000 retweets and almost 60,000 likes. Not only were people outraged that the principal refused to provide period products to young students, but they were also upset that he labeled access to menstrual hygiene products as a “privilege”. As the non-profit organization PERIOD so eloquently states on its website: “menstrual hygiene is a right, not a privilege”.

Since the Tweet went viral, the girls that made the cookies have founded an organization called The Revolutionary Girls’ Baking Society, that aims to “bake a difference” through “one bizarre confection at a time”.

According to the newly-formed website, the three anonymous girls decided to form the society once they and their families were encouraged by “the groundswell of support” from the public. The website also provided an update to the situation at their middle school. According to the statement, the “principal and the school board are now working to make sure every girl in [the] town will have the products they need readily available so no girl misses a day of school”. The Society added that they “are very grateful that the school has taken our action seriously and is making a change”. 

Although it’s exciting that these young women were able to make a difference by their activism, the bottom line is, many young women are still negatively impacted by the stigma surrounding menstruation. “Period poverty” is real and it is globally pervasive–America is no exception. According to a recent study commissioned by PERIOD and Thinx, one in five teens has struggled to afford period products or were not able to purchase them at all. Keep in mind, menstruation is a bodily function that most women experience almost universally–the fact that there are still so many obstacles surrounding period management if proof of society’s inherent disregard for women and women’s health.

As usual, the internet expressed its own opinion about a male authority figure asserting a harmful influence over girls’ bodies.

Twitter was pretty vocal about what many considered the principal’s ignorant comments about privilege and menstruation. 

This Twitter user was confused out how “abusing” tampons would work:

The fact is, due to their privilege, many men are ignorant to how expensive period products are and how they can be difficult to get your hands on–especially when you’re in a pinch. 

This Twitter user was frustrated with the principal’s lack of education on the topic of period poverty:

Once the principal’s argument was investigated further, it became obvious that it held no ground. 

This Twitter user exposed the double-standard and built-in misogyny of refusing to offer hygiene products to help handle a normal bodily function:

It’s brilliant arguments like these that expose the hypocrisy of structural sexism and how it works against women at all stages of their life.

Ecuador Was In Chaos After Massive Protests But The Government Has Reached A Deal With These Indigenous Activists

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Ecuador Was In Chaos After Massive Protests But The Government Has Reached A Deal With These Indigenous Activists

@democracynow / Twitter

Ecuador’s government announced a round of talks with leaders of the Indigenous groups who have been mobilizing against the government in a move to end the violence and chaos that has racked the nation for more than a week.

President Moreno announced he would withdraw the country from a deal reached with the IMF that many said would cause the greatest harms to the country’s most vulnerable populations.

In a major address, President Lenin Moreno announced he had struck a deal with indigenous leaders to cancel a disputed austerity package.

The news comes after nearly two weeks of protests that have paralyzed the economy and left seven dead.

Under the new agreement, President Moreno will withdraw the International Monetary Fund-backed package, known as Decree 883, that included a sharp rise in fuel costs. Indigenous leaders, in turn, will call on their followers to end protests and street blockades.

“Comrades, this deal is a compromise on both sides,” Moreno said. “The indigenous mobilization will end and Decree 883 will be lifted.”

The two sides will work together to develop a package of measures to cut government spending, increase revenue and reduce Ecuador’s growing budget deficits and public debt.

Ecuador’s Indigenous groups celebrated the announcement as a major victory.

“I’m so happy I don’t know what to say. I don’t have words, I’m so emotional. At least God touched the president’s heart,” said protester Rosa Matango in an interview with The Guardian. “I am happy as a mother, happy for our future. We indigenous people fought and lost so many brothers, but we’ll keep going forward.”

Caravans of cars roamed the streets early on Monday honking in celebration, passengers shouting, banging pots and waving Ecuadorian flags.

“The moment of peace, of agreement, has come for Ecuador,” said Arnaud Peral, the United Nations’ resident coordinator in Ecuador and one of the mediators of the nationally televised talks. “This deal is an extraordinary step.”

Wearing the feathered headdress and face paint of the Achuar people of the Amazon rainforest, the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations, Jaime Vargas, thanked President Moreno and demanded improved long-term conditions for Indigenous Ecuadorians.

“We want peace for our brothers and sisters in this country,” Vargas said. “We don’t want more repression.”

The protests started when the President affirmed his support for an IMF-backed agreement, known as Decree 883.

The move sparked nationwide protests as prices rose overnight by about a 25% for gas and double for diesel. A state of emergency was imposed on Thursday. Truck and taxi drivers forced a partial shutdown of Quito’s airport and roadblocks have paralyzed major roads across the country.

Images from Quito showed protesters hurling gas bombs and stones, ransacking and vandalizing public buildings as well as clashing with the police in running battles late into the night.

Some protests became so violent that the government was actually forced to flee the capital of Quito for the coastal city of Guayaquil.

All of this was in response to Decree 883 which would have ended fuel subsidies that many of the country’s poorest citizens have come to rely on.

Other indigenous demands included higher taxes on the wealthy and the firing of the interior and defence ministers over their handling of the protests.

In a shift from the heated language of the last 10 days of protests, each side at the negotiations praised the other’s willingness to talk as they outlined their positions in the first hour before a short break.

“From our heart, we declare that we, the peoples and nations, have risen up in search of liberty,” Vargas told The Guardian. “We recognize the bravery of the men and women who rose up.”