Reactions to the cover artwork
There have been mixed reactions to the cover of Period Matters which is a detail from Aadya Shakti, a painting by Lyla FreeChild. She harvested her menstrual blood for many months and used it to paint.
Is the cover taking things too far? Here are some of the reactions.
Reviews from Readers
Periods are natural and there is nothing to be ashamed of it.
When encountered by a sexist person or someone who makes sexist jokes about PMS, throw this book [Period Matters] in their face. It takes a lot more than this for people to normalize periods, nevertheless throwing this book in their face is not a bad idea. Literally as well. :p
In August, Momspresso on the App and Instagram ran a 100-word short story competition with the theme of periods, inspired by Period Matters. The winners received copies of the anthology. It was difficult to choose the best pieces, so many of them touched on important aspects of the experience, and were movingly written. Here are the best three…
Getting Young People Involved
In my Introduction of Period Matters, I talk about my young nieces being involved in Panties with Purpose. They are helping to raise awareness and funds towards alleviating period poverty. What is heartening is that they are able to speak to their peers, both girls and boys, with confidence about menstruation as a normal, natural bodily process.
The Goddess Dezalik
In my essay on the menstruation experience of the women in the Kalasha community, I write about their goddess Dezalik. She is believed to have all her powers dedicated to looking after women’s welfare and health. During times of difficulty, for instance, during a difficult labour or pregnancy, the Kalasha women throw walnuts at her wooden statue and pray for her intercession.
Working with Older Women
While most of the work of Panties with Purpose has been concentrated on supporting girls in school, we have from time to time worked with older women. The plight of the poor, aged woman, especially one who has a disability or an illness, is one that is not often talked about. Leave aside that she might be experiencing all the terrible symptoms of menopause, she is extremely vulnerable.
Working in prisons
One event which has stayed in my mind since we began our work with Panties with Purpose, is the day when we did our first distribution at the Langata Prison, in Nairobi. It was a long drawn out process to gain permission to enter the prison, because the authorities had never had a donor who wanted to give pants and sanitary pads. Finally we received approval and taking enough underpants to help 1000 inmates, we went to the prison on the appointed day.
When we started the Panties with Purpose campaign in 2011 to raise awareness about period poverty and help poor school girls in Kenya, we found ourselves with supporters from all over the world. This wonderful Pantometer was designed by a group of Girl Guides at a school in Vancouver, BC. They raised over a 1000 pairs of underpants and sent them across to us.
Work in the rural areas of Kenya
One of our partners in the early years of our work was The Path to Womanhood Foundation. They concentrated their work in Kiserian, where the Maasai live. On several occasions we donated underpants and sanitary pads, and PWF organised menstrual and reproductive health workshops for the women and young girls.
The Great P n P Blast
On Friday 30th September 2011, my sisters and I, together with the Kenyan artist and singer Iddi Achieng, organised a music concert, The Great Panties and Pads Blast, at the Alliance Francaise Garden in Nairobi.
Girls Soccer Clubs in Kibera
Playing sports while having your period has always been a problem for girls. There is research and data from the Youth Sport Trust which shows over the last three years, periods have become the biggest concern for girls when doing PE in school. A total of 37% o girls interviewed said periods stopped them from getting active in school last year, up from 27% in 2018-19.
Menstrual and Reproductive Health Training
Our outreach work in Kenya has included school, hospitals, prisons and orphanages. We have worked with a variety of community and faith based organisations and done distributions at mosques, temples, and churches.