South African rapper and Global Citizen Sho Madjozi wants to educate young people about periods. That’s why, for Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28, she surprised schoolgirls in Johannesburg's Soweto township area, according to the Sunday Times.
Lofenste Girls High students cheered and danced to welcome Madjozi, a Johannesburg native. During a school assembly, she shared her personal experience with menstruation and encouraged the girls to discuss the topic openly.
The visit was part of Madjozi’s new partnership with sanitary pad brand STAYFREE.
"Our main goal is to inspire the girls to reach their dreams, even when they are on their period,” Madjozi told the Times. “We don't want your period to stop you from what you are doing or achieving your dreams.”
The school program is an extension of STAYFREE's #OURMOVE menstrual education campaign, which aims to invite girls around the world to unite and stand together. It will reach roughly 4,000 schools by the end of 2019 and is set to impact a million students in South Africa.
“It’s an experience that half the population shares, so why do we find it so difficult to speak about?” Madjozi asked the schoolgirls, according to Independent Online.
In South Africa, the stigma and taboos around periods stop girls from attending school on a daily basis. Girls who don’t receive the same education as their peers might have a harder time finding employment and escaping poverty later in life. Some provinces provide free sanitary pads in schools, and South Africa recently stopped taxing period products as luxury items, but many students still can’t afford to buy them.
To keep girls in school, South Africa needs more funding for menstrual health education, clean water, handwashing facilities, and waste management, according to menstrual health advocates. Teaching boys and girls about menstruation through campaigns like #OURMOVE help dispel misconceptions and create more supportive environments.
“I am proud to be lending my voice to a conversation we must have,” Madjozi said. “It’s important we start spreading a message of positivity to young women to empower them to take ownership and feel proud of their bodies.”