M-word: challenging common censorship of menstruation

Agency
BE—IT Health
Challenge
In Ukraine, teens do not consider menstruation as a normal body function. For them, it is a taboo topic. According to statistics, 88% of Ukrainian girls have been bullied because of menstruation, while 30% of boys admit witnessing it. Although pretty high numbers of teens ― 90% of girls and 74% of boys ― think they should know more about menstruation, parents and teachers still do not talk to them about it. They are even ashamed to use words ‘menstruation’ or ‘periods’. Instead, they say ‘these days’, ‘critical days’, ‘holidays’.

SOLUTION

We at Be—it Health & Social Impact decided to challenge common censorship on menstruation by educating teens about menstruation and encouraging a tolerant attitude towards it among youngsters.

To engage and educate teens about menstruation, we went to the place, where they hang out ― Youtube. There we launched M-Channel with friendly videos explaining menstruation in a simple way. It is not a ‘girls only’ channel, but it suits for all youngsters. As its hosts we invited young opinion leaders: a pop-star, a blogger, and actors of the most popular teen TV show, including a boy host. We filled our M-channel with simple edutainment videos on the use of hygiene products, sport during menstruation, reaction to bullying, boys’ points of view, we also invited a gynecologist and a psychologist to answer the most burning questions of the youngsters. 

Then, we moved to Instagram with @Menstruationgram, where we published three-six posts every 21 to 35 days, as if an account is a girl having periods. There we discussed hygiene rules, danger symptoms, and shared daily tips in teens’ style with emoji and memes.

To make the campaign sustainable, we’ve turned M-channel content in a school lesson. We’ve involved schools into communication and introduced the M-Channel based lesson ‘Those Days are Menstruation’ for boys and girls. Yet, not all schools accepted it at once, since teachers continued to insist that “parents wouldn’t approve it”, “boys shouldn’t know it”, “such a shame to talk about it”. To prepare teachers to talk openly about menstruation with students, we arranged a workshop with a sexual education expert and a gynecologist. 

RESULTS

Youtube and Instagram:

6 000 000 impressions of the campaign
2 700 000 earned impressions
1 300 000 views on Youtube (400 000 of the were boys)
600 comments and questions from teens
50% engagement rate on @Mentruationram with $500 budget


‘Those Days are Menstruation’ lesson:

50 lessons were conducted in 30+ schools
1 500 students attended

We made the campaign’s results sustainable ― currently the lesson plan ‘Those Days are Menstruation’ is pending formal approval from the Ministry of Education of Ukraine. After approval, it will be a part of the regular curriculum.