Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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14

Apr

2019

Breaking an ancient taboo

Author: Jim Taylor

By the end of this year, all B.C. schools will have to provide free menstrual tampons and pads for students.

            The announcement begins to end a prejudice that seems to have been around as long as civilization. The Bible, an authority for three world religions, considers menstruating women unclean. They must be segregated. Anita Diamant built that exclusion into her best-selling book, The Red Tent.

            Half of human population have, or have had, menstrual periods. Yet it remains a taboo subject.

            Although most schools do make pads and tampons available for emergencies, “many young women feel awkward asking for menstrual products at a school office,” said Rebecca Ballard, a Grade 11 student in the New Westminster school district. 

            And if that’s the situation in Canada, imagine what it must be like in more traditional countries like Uganda.

            Erika van Oyen went to Uganda in 2008 as a volunteer. She quickly realized that many girls got short-changed on their education. Unable to afford disposable sanitary supplies – indeed, often unable even to afford underpants – they missed a week of schooling every month.

            “Before we started this program,” van Oyen says, “schools taught about women’s biology, about menstrual cycles. But a girl in her period is ridiculed. Teased if she soils her clothes. Humiliated. So they stay away. They fall behind in their classes, and eventually they drop out.”


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3

Apr

2016

Five dollars a year keeps girls in school

Author: Jim Taylor
Everyone looks for “tipping points” -- the place in a social structure where the smallest input will have the greatest effect. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the term with his 2000 book by that name. Tipping points can be, and often are, little things overlooked by people obsessed with the bigger picture. In New York, apparently, fixing broken windows and beautifying basketball courts started the city towards renewal. Polio vaccines and Rick Mercer’s mosquito nets have also captured tipping points -- small individual actions that can make a huge difference. Sometimes it takes an outsider to see the obvious.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: Uganda, girls, school

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