Menstruation; although a biological function experienced by half the world’s population, still has a stigma around it that is often exemplified by a number of euphemisms i.e “that time of the month,” “period,” “Aunt Flo,” and many more.
Studies have shown that not enough conversation takes place globally around menstruation, and even when these conversations do take place, they are usually behind closed doors.
Matefo Morakeng, founder of Dear Bella – a brand that offers girls the necessary access to menstrual hygiene care through affordable sanitary pads – provides a comfortable and unintimidating environment that encourages both boys and girls to freely talk about women’s health, especially menstruation.
As a philanthropist, Morakeng’s biggest dedication is building and empowering girls to be active and productive citizens, while carrying in mind the purpose of removing the indignity of life without sanitary pads; an issue that still affects many South African girls.
Dear Bella does not only offer pads that are designed to give women and young girls confidence and comfort, but the brand has also invested in providing health education. Morakeng’s first session was at the Gauteng Youth Expo 2019, when during her menstrual hygiene discussion with young girls, also saw fit to invite boys into the discussion. This later convinced her to start menstrual health sessions with both girls and boys under one roof; an idea she is pleased to have executed because boys have shown a great deal of interest.
“They are curious to know and learn more, but importantly, the sessions are meant for both girls and boys to learn from each other in order to bridge the information gap and remove the stigma or awkwardness when it comes to discussing issues related to menstruation,” she says.
Although the introduction of boys (aged 10 -20) in the conversations made the girls somewhat shy in the beginning, Morakeng admits that they eased up with time and are not afraid to open up anymore. The secret to this, according to Morakeng, is how the sessions are conducted.
At the end of the Dear Bella sessions, girls leave with a bulk of knowledge to better understand their menstrual cycle, are taught how to hygienically manage their menstruation, and are empowered to view their bodies in a positive manner. On the other hand, boys leave with a better understanding and appreciation of what girls and women go through, as well as the role they can play in ensuring that this becomes a normal and comfortable experience for their counterparts. The aim is to dispel as many misconceptions around menstruation as possible.
Morakeng hopes that some of the boys and girls who attend the discussions will soon join her team of Dear Bella ambassadors, and also plans on growing the sanitary pads brand in order to achieve her goal of working on more projects.
For more info, visit www.dearbella.co.za or find them on Facebook and Instagram, Dear Bella, and @dear_bella_sanitary_pads, respectively.
~ Thabile Shange