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International Women’s Day

20 March

Ayesha Casely-Hayford | Actress blog

Where better to spend International Women’s Day than at a charity event dedicated to raising awareness of Women’s issues around the world.

Even more than that, where better to spend International Women’s Day than at a charity event organised by one of the strongest women in my life, my cousin Margaret.

Sunday 8th March was the day, Peter Jones in Chelsea was our location, Action Aid was our cause. A March Tea party with Margaret, the chair of Action Aid, as our Mad Hatter. Cakes, sandwiches and scones, flowers on the table along with a gift of Divine caramel chocolate for each of us. Speeches, live jazz and soul music. It was a beautiful day to be a woman. The strength and power in the room lit up every corner, you could feel it all around you. I don’t need much to make me hyper so I was well and truly buzzing.

Much was said. Videos, information, opening our eyes to what women are experiencing but one particular consideration struck me very deeply. It is something that goes deep to the blood of being a woman, our periods.

My womb, my menstrual cycle. My monthly episode that bonds me with the rest of womankind. It arrives and it leaves  – my days go on. Sometimes I can’t stand the pain and I pop a pill. Othertimes I breath into the sudden pangs and get my yoga on, stretch until I feel better again. Every now and then it makes me cry or puke up. I talk about it with my friends, share how it is, hear theirs is worse, more painful, less regular and then feel grateful for my own load and remind myself to be accepting of my own body. It’s normal. I’m normal. My period is part of me, it does not change who I am. I learnt on International Women’s Day that this is NOT a global truth.

For some, having a period is changing who they are, it is affecting their future because of bad sanitiation. Bad sanitation not only puts women at risk of rape when they have to leave their home at night in order to relieve themselves publically and in the dark but it means that schools are unable to provide for young women. She has a period. She stays at home. Once a month…for one week every month, a young woman is missing her education because there is inadequate sanitation provision for her while she is learning. This devasted me.

Periods have always been unfair and not just because of the pain. It’s infuriating that our tampons and sanitary towels are taxed and now I learn that the consideration of what a woman needs during her period is such a low priority for some governments that the future of a child is being curbed, limited, deined  – all because she is a woman. A pure discriminatory effect. Considering that the female having a period is essential for the survival of the human species – it’s totally ridiculous.

I’m 100% behind Action Aid – Action In Distress – strengthing voices and paving the way for equality and justice for women. Every day I can appreciate what I have and consider what I can do for others. It starts with me. March is going to become women’s month, tea parties galore! With one of my soul sisters Nadia Motraghi,  we have pledged to be Mad Hatters in March 2016, International Women’s Day and beyond.

International Women’s Day is yearly, my menstrual cycle is monthly, my womanhood is daily. The fight goes on.

Ayesha Casely-Hayford | Actress blog

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