Happy Flow Monday: The Happy flow Campaign is more than free sanitary wear.

Words by Patricia Kajumba

For more than a year now, I have dedicated myself to promoting the Happy Flow Campaign on all my social media platforms and in ground spaces that I occupy. Whilst calling upon people to sign and share the petition for free sanitary wear, I have received a number of questions and also engaged in challenging discussions about the intentions/relevance of this campaign.

Whereas the campaign undeniably emphasizes the demand for free sanitary wear for all who need it in East and Southern Africa, it should also be understood that the campaign’s intentions are inclusive of other benefits besides free sanitary wear. Apart from adequate hygiene and menstrual products being equally important, the Happy Flow Campaign is looking at other factors to consider in policy-making – especially around Menstrual Hygiene Management. Some of these include; acknowledging menstrual hygiene as a basic human right, taboos and stigmas surrounding menstruation, women/girls’ role in wider society where they live and also women/girls’ understanding of the reproductive cycle and menstruation. All these factors have great impact on women and girls’ happiness, rights, dignity, equality and well-being.

To broaden your perception, the Happy Flow Campaign is looking at improving product provision and transforming power structures which generate and reinforce menstrual stigmas such as culture, family, education and religion. As Menstrual Hygiene advocates and the Happy Flow Campaign in general, we are saying that menstruation should be comprehended and normalized in all these structures. In addition to this, the campaign also clearly highlights that menstruation is not a choice. In this regard, economic structures that limit menstruators from being able to access appropriate sanitary products no matter their geographical location are also called upon to restructure and prioritize Menstrual Hygiene Management. During the stage of adolescence, girls are accompanied with feelings of shame, lack of self- awareness, confusion, anxiety, desperateness with questions of why, disempowerment – and we could go on and on. Only to make it worse, in the prevalence of menstrual stigma, we see many rights of menstruators being ignored. Rights to education, life, work, health, decision making, security, dignity, equality, fairness and privacy are all brushed under the carpet.

The success of the Happy Flow Campaign will be meaningful and yield more beyond free sanitary wear. It will make menstruation about the adolescent girl/ woman as one who bears rights. With all the above, we should agree that as citizens of any country, we bear the responsibility of enjoying our rights as human beings. If in any circumstance some rights are being ignored/ other human beings are suffering, we still bear the overall responsibility to make an alarm demanding for attention and change. This is why the Happy Flow Campaign is on to give Africans a platform to demand for happiness and dignity for all who menstruate. Signing the petition for free sanitary wear is a symbol that you actually stand in solidarity with us. Join the Happy Flow Campaign now.

Patricia Kajumba is  passionate about promoting girl child education and ending Sexual Gender Based Violence against girls. She is the founder of the Twekonyere project in Uganda.