Be the Change

by Dr. Tomi-Ann Roberts
Girl looking off to the side smiling

The great Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” What would it mean to take that idea seriously? Well, it would mean we can’t stay ignorant and turn away from injustice, and we can’t wait around for someone else to take care of things for us. It would mean we have to take personal responsibility for making our world one we want to live in. And that takes courage

Do we have the courage to be the change we wish to see in the way the world views periods and vaginal health? How can we find that courage? One way might be to recognize that justice is at stake here. When our sense of fairness is challenged, we often find we’re braver than we knew.

Justice and fairness for vaginas? Well, yes, as a matter of fact. Perhaps it’s hard to recognize here in North America, where most of us have access to safe, affordable products that help us manage our periods. But this is not true for many girls in many parts of the world. And if we’re going to be the change we wish to see in the world, then we can’t stay ignorant about that, and we can’t sit around quietly waiting for someone else to do something about it.

In many parts of Africa, girls miss significant days of school or even get sick because of the taboos of silence and shame surrounding periods. In these countries, it is not considered appropriate for a girl to even mention menstruation, particularly to men. But because fathers and husbands generally control the money, girls cannot get sanitary products, and so they stay silent and isolated during their periods, sometimes in unclean, unsafe conditions. That’s not fair, is it?

Safe, healthy periods should be a basic human right for girls all over the world. But one important barrier to that right is our own ignorance and silence. So next time your best friend won’t tell anyone she has her period, next time your dad is too embarrassed to buy you pads at the store, or you notice that your school offers no education about menstruation and vaginal care, don’t let it slide. Sometimes it’s easier to brave when we know we’re doing something to help not just ourselves but others. That’s when you need to remember your sisters in places like Rwanda or Zimbabwe. Speak up on their behalf. One voice at a time, girls everywhere can begin to change the way the whole world talks about periods and vaginal health. Lead by example. Be the change.


i just bought the U tampons, i nearly vomited and cried when i saw how much plastic waste in involved in this product. Kotex you should be ashamed to make products like these and then have articles quoting Ghandi?!! Come on girls be the change, end plastic, choose natural.

" - sarahDL
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