Across the world, it is a subject of great debate. What right does a woman have to her own body? To what extent does a woman have a right to her own body? At what point is it a woman’s body rather than a girl’s?
I had my first period before I even had my first health class. I didn’t tell anyone because I did not even know what a period was. I never understood why some women stood at the back of the recreation center where Muslims in my small town gathered while everyone else prayed. I never understood why my mother seemed to buy little boxes of white things every month. It didn’t occur to me that this was something that happened to almost every woman. It wasn’t until my mother took notice of it that I finally discovered what it was.
For many years, I was convinced that men did not even know what menstruation was. It was something women kept private. Something that we should not talk about. Something to be embarrassed about. As I got older, I realized this was not the case. Monthly cycles were a part of many females’ lives.
Yet, with that realization, came another. Girls are taught to think a certain way about our bodies. We are hushed. We are taught to keep quiet. To not speak because we might make someone uncomfortable. Almost every society in the world encourages females to be ashamed of them. And that is where I see the blatant gender inequality in our world---in the way people think. Menstruation has a connotation behind it and because of that connotation; girls are denied their right to live a healthy life.
So I have decided to be proud. Be proud of who I am. Be proud of being a woman and everything that it entails. Because as Beyoncé says, girls run the world.
Hamna Khalid is a high school student from a variety of places, including Canada, Pakistan, and the United States. She is a passionate feminist and an advocate for human rights, particularly in ensuring that every person has access to equal, and sufficient, healthcare. She is the Vice President of her high school’s gender equality club, a member of the World Affairs Council, and an ardent supporter of youth activism. Hamna loves to watch thought-provoking, impactful films and is incredibly interested in the use of technology to bridge gaps. One day, she hopes to become a physician and help those who are less fortunate receive an equal opportunity for a healthy life.