Meghan Markle has spoken out about period shaming in a touching letter that addresses the stigma surrounding menstruation around the world.
The 35-year-old, who is currently dating Prince Harry, set off on a humanitarian trip to India earlier this year where she encountered the harsh reality of a country with little period resources and a lack of education.
By sharing her powerful story with Time, she hopes to raise awareness and help young women who are missing out on a bright future due to poor sanitation and shame associated with periods.
"I traveled to Delhi and Mumbai this January with World Vision to meet girls and women directly impacted by the stigmatization of menstrual health and to learn how it hinders girls' education," writes Meghan.
"One hundred and thirteen million adolescent girls between the ages of 12-14 in India alone are at risk of dropping out of school because of the stigma surrounding menstrual health.
"During my time in the field, many girls shared that they feel embarrassed to go to school during their periods, ill equipped with rags instead of pads, unable to participate in sports, and without bathrooms available to care for themselves, they often opt to drop out of school entirely.
"With minimal dialogue about menstrual health hygiene either at school or home due to the taboo nature of the subject, many girls believe their bodies are purging evil spirits, or that they are injured once a month; this is a shame-filled reality they quietly endure.
"All of these factors perpetuate the cycle of poverty and stunt a young girl's dream for a more prolific future.
"When a girl misses school because of her period, cumulatively that puts her behind her male classmates by 145 days. And that's the mitigated setback if she opts to stay in school, which most do not. The latter elect to return home, increasing their subjection to dangerous work, susceptibility to being victims of violence, and most commonly, being conditioned for early childhood marriage.
"As a female in India, the challenge of survival begins at birth, first overcoming female feticide, then being victim to malnourishment, potentially abuse, and lack of access to proper sanitation facilities.
"Why, if she is able to overcome all of these challenges and finally get to school, should her education and potential to succeed, be sacrificed because of shame surrounding her period?"
Read Meghan's full letter about menstruation shaming here.
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