From Bystanders to Allies: How Men Can Support Better Menstrual Health
By Nanda Bagus
Menstruation: a natural, essential, yet often misunderstood part of life. Despite being a cornerstone of human health, it is shrouded in secrecy, stigma, and misinformation. At Perfect Fit, we believe in the power of education and inclusivity to drive change and break these taboos. It's a journey that leaves no one behind, men included. In fact, we're proud to have male educators like Domi and myself who are deeply committed to promoting women's health and equality.
In this article, I'd like to shed light on our journey - the story of Domi, the 'Pad Man' from Indonesia, and present some thoughts on how we, as men, can play a crucial role in supporting menstrual health.
Meet Domi, The Pad Man from Indonesia
Domi joined Perfect Fit in 2018 as one of our resellers and educators. He is originally from Lembata, a small island in East Flores near Timor Leste. In 2020, Domi became our impact and education officer or we can call him as a tireless advocate for menstrual health education. He has made his mission to confront the stigma and taboo surrounding menstruation in East Nusa Tenggara Province.
Domi’s primary focus is debunking limiting myths about menstruation, spreading awareness about reusable menstrual products and the importance of women’s health and taking care of our environment and ocean in the Eastern part of Indonesia. His drive to educate is strongly fueled by the belief that open conversation and male involvelment in women’s issue is a powerful tool to challenge entrenched norms.
Domi's dedication extends beyond education - he is equally committed to ensuring access to menstrual products for those in remote areas. Recognizing the struggles of rural communities that lack of sustainable products and health education, Domi leads Perfect Fit’s impact program via our Buy One Donate One model. This model is our commitment to providing equal access to products and education to underserved areas in Indonesia to fight for health equity. Domi's determination to spreading awareness and educating people everyday making him well known as “Domi Pembalut” or “Domi Pad Men” among women and men in Eastern Nusa Tenggara.
In a exciting twist, he also took his advocacy to menstrual health for all to an unexpected platform: a stand-up comedy scene. His unique approach targeted a predominantly male audience in East Nusa Tenggara, offering them a comedic, yet insightful discourse on menstruation. While the initial shock was unavoidable, Domi’s amusing routines broke the ice, resulting in broader engagement. His story serves as a compelling example of how one person’s determination can bring about transformative change, fostering a more accepting and knowledgeable society.
What Can We Learn from Domi and How We Can Support Better Menstrual Health as Men?
As a cis-male myself, I believe male have a huge role creating more equal world as most of us have sit in many strategic leadership position in home, office, and general society. Therefore, it's time to leverage the power as men to support more women (your partner, sisters, daughters, friends) starting from supporting menstrual health. These are various ways, from the easiest to the hardest, that men can actively contribute to promoting menstrual health.
Menstruation is often surrounded by misinformation and myths. It is essential for men to educate themselves about menstruation. It is a biological processes, and it is impacting on women's lives from puberty to menopause. Seek reliable sources such as scientific research, educational materials, and accounts from menstruators themselves (your partner, friends, daughters) to gain a better understanding.
Menstruation can comes with physical discomfort, emotional changes, and societal challenges. By being empathetic and understanding, men can create a supportive environment for women during their menstrual cycles. This includes recognizing the validity of their experiences and offering emotional support when needed.
Break the silence surrounding menstrual health by actively participating in discussions about women's health. Encourage open dialogue with friends, family members, colleagues, and communities about menstrual health without fear of judgment. By normalizing these conversations, we can challenge the existing stigma and encourage others to do the same.
Advocate for initiatives that address menstrual health, education, and stigma elimination. This can include supporting companies, organizations and communities that: 1) provide menstrual products to those in need; 2) promoting access to proper sanitation facilities, and 3) encouraging comprehensive menstrual education in schools and communities.
Men can challenge the limiting social norms for women by actively rejecting such behaviors and promoting a more inclusive society. Engage in conversations that challenge harmful beliefs and advocate for equal treatment and opportunities for all genders.
Men have the power to be allies in the fight against menstrual taboos and stigmas. By amplifying the voices of menstruators, supporting their initiatives, and standing up against discrimination, men can contribute to the collective effort of breaking down barriers and creating a more accepting and understanding society.
Overall, it's important for me as a man to break the silence surrounding menstruation. By being open to discussions, seeking accurate information, and challenging societal stigmas, I can contribute to a more empathetic and understanding society. I firmly believe that by embracing this responsibility, I can contribute to a world where menstruation is celebrated, understood, and respected as an integral part of women's lives.