Imagine missing up to a week of school every month just because you’re having your period.
Add to this the confusion of not knowing why you’re bleeding or how this is linked to your fertility. All you know is that during the time you can’t touch boys because you’re “unclean”.
This is the reality facing hundreds of girls in Vanuatu who don’t have access to sanitary pads, nor a proper understanding of what is happening to their bodies.
Girls like Melissa, who feared leakage and being humiliated when the boys in her class found out she was bleeding.
“All the men will look and talk and laugh and I’ll be afraid. So I’ll just stay at home instead.”
Florence agreed, saying the boys would check girls' skirts when they stand up from chairs when they knew they had their period.
Recently, things have changed for Florence and Melissa. They are just two of the 500 girls CARE Australia has been able to help by providing locally-sourced reusable pads as well as education.
CARE Country Director in Vanuatu, Megan Chisolm works with Vanuatu girls to better educate them on what's happening to their bodies and says that some can be unaware menstruation occurs on a predictable basis.
"Girls don't have the knowledge about what's happening in their bodies, why they're getting their period and what that leads to," Megan told Mamamia.