Menstrual Health

Periods shouldn’t hold girls back!

Plan International is working with Kimberly-Clark and its Kotex® brand to give girls the tools they need to take charge of their lives.

On any given day, more than 300 million women worldwide are menstruating, according to the World Bank. Yet girls and young women are dealing with period myths, taboos and other significant barriers to managing their periods. Communities all around the world perpetuate the idea that a natural and healthy bodily function is dirty, unwanted, or even cursed or poisonous.

“I was 11 years old when I got my first period,” Yacira, a 16-year-old from Colombia, says. “I remember very well that I was told I could not talk to anyone about it, that it was something only I should be aware of, and much less talk to men about it.”

Shame, stigma and misinformation can discourage girls from attending school during their periods. What’s more, many schools don’t have the facilities girls need to manage their periods with dignity. All of these factors can combine to push girls to drop out of school altogether.

In order to preserve girls’ access to education, Plan is partnering with Kimberly-Clark and its Kotex® brand to tackle menstrual myths and harmful gender norms. Keep reading to learn more about this global partnership!

Yacira sits on a lime green couch between her mother and a younger sister. She points to a piece of paper on her lap, showing them information about menstrual health.
Yacira (above, center) participated in one of Plan’s menstrual health awareness programs in Colombia, with support from Kimberly-Clark and its Kotex® brand (photo from 2021). © Plan International

Menstruation can affect all aspects of a girl’s life, including her …

  • Education: Girls often miss class during their periods because their schools don’t have the facilities or supplies they need.
  • Dignity: Girls often have to endure teasing and shaming during their periods, and can be excluded from everyday life.
  • Health: Girls often have to use improvised menstrual health materials, which can lead to infection.
  • Skills and work: Girls may miss job training opportunities if they don’t have access to the supplies or facilities they need to manage their periods.
  • Participation: Girls may be forced to isolate themselves during their periods, missing out on school, work and other activities.

I am happy to see that there is progress. My classmates no longer make fun of menstruation issues and we girls are losing our fear of expressing ourselves about our periods.

— Dulce, Peru

Resources and updates on our work

Press release: Plan International and Kotex uplift girls globally to break period stigmas

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Press release: Kotex brand marks 100th anniversary with Global She Can Initiative to fast forward women’s progress

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Guide: The ABCs of womanhood, from Kotex ®

Learn more

Blog: Did you know? Why we say “menstrual health” instead of “menstrual hygiene”

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Plan is working with Kimberly-Clark and its Kotex® brand to help girls comfortably manage their health. And in doing that, we’re normalizing what should already be normal.

Together, we’re working in four countries in Latin America to address social norms, stigmas and discrimination around puberty and menstruation through a combination of education, mass media campaigns and skills-building trainings.

Today I can understand that menstruating is a sign of health, and I get along very well with my menstrual cycle and all the feelings and sensations that go with it.

— Paloma, 19, Brazil

How you can help

By supporting Plan, you can help us deliver menstrual health management programs in countries all around the world, as well as other critical work for girls like improving access to education, providing protection from violence and giving girls the resources they need to create the futures they want for themselves.

Will you donate to Plan to support our work with girls?

Plan International USA

Your contribution is tax deductible.

Your gift to Plan International USA will be used where needed most, to help create sustainable change and address the root causes of poverty and inequality. Donations can support programs, innovation, and infrastructure required to deliver our programs to girls and children worldwide, in areas such as protection, education, health, sanitation, disaster relief and economic empowerment.

Thank you

Thank you for believing that nothing should hold a girl back. It’s people like you who are making our world a better place for girls. We couldn’t do this critical work without you!