Beyond the Stats

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By Isioma D Okolo, MBChB, DTMH, MRCOG

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In Summary

• Remember: Everybody wins when girls stay in school.
• We can keep girls in school by providing easy access to dignified, affordable and sustainable period products that doesn’t cost the earth.
• If you have periods, consider swapping to reusable period products, the environment and your purse will thank you.
• Inspired by the Scottish example, write to your local policy makers demanding that period products are provided free in educational institutions where you live.


In my pieces, I use the terms:

  • Girls, women, womxn, pregnant people and birthing people to refer to some of the reproductive health experiences of individuals assigned female at birth 

  • Minoritised in place of BIPOC( Black, Indigenous & people of color), POC ( people of color), BAME (Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic)  and BME  ( Black & Minority Ethnic) to recognise that different individuals and communities do not naturally exist as minorities; but instead have been assigned this identity in response to dominant social narratives. ‘Minoritised’ highlights contemporary power imbalances rooted in historical events of slavery, colonisation, and other systems of oppression.

Sneak Peek to Our Next Piece:

The theme of this year’s International Day of the Girl Child is ‘digital generation, our generation’. To mark this we will be celebrating the resilience of individuals who are ‘Adults in Essence but Not in Mind’ in this digital age.


  1. Dr. Isioma Okolo discusses “The Birth Lottery” – Harvard Public Health Review: A Student-Run Peer-Reviewed Journal. Accessed October 5, 2021.
  2. Puberty. Accessed October 4, 2021.
  3. Globally, periods are causing girls to be absent from school. Accessed October 5, 2021.
  4. Primary School Age Education. UNICEF DATA. Accessed October 2, 2021.
  5. Finsgate S +44300 777 9777 PIU, London 5-7 Cranwood Street, Uk E 9lh. Menstrual Health Day: Global period poverty and stigma worsen under lockdown. Plan International UK. Published May 28, 2020. Accessed October 3, 2021.
  6. How am I expected to be a wife to someone my father’s age? UNFPA ESARO. Published August 2, 2017. Accessed October 3, 2021.
  7. How Good Menstrual Hygiene Keeps Girls Learning. UNICEF USA. Accessed October 5, 2021.
  8. Mortality Visualization | IHME Viz Hub. Accessed October 5, 2021.
  9. ENVIRONMENSTRUAL RESOURCES HUB. Wen. Published May 21, 2007. Accessed October 5, 2021.
  10. The True Cost of Your Period. Pandia Health. Published October 24, 2018. Accessed October 5, 2021.
  11. Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill. Published online 2020:12.
  12. Hennegan J, Dolan C, Steinfield L, Montgomery P. A qualitative understanding of the effects of reusable sanitary pads and puberty education: implications for future research and practice. Reprod Health. 2017;14(1):78. doi:10.1186/s12978-017-0339-9
  13. Pokhrel D, Bhattarai S, Emgård M, von Schickfus M, Forsberg BC, Biermann O. Acceptability and feasibility of using vaginal menstrual cups among schoolgirls in rural Nepal: a qualitative pilot study. Reprod Health. 2021;18(1):20. doi:10.1186/s12978-020-01036-0
  14. Chinyama J, Chipungu J, Rudd C, et al. Menstrual hygiene management in rural schools of Zambia: a descriptive study of knowledge, experiences and challenges faced by schoolgirls. BMC Public Health. 2019;19(1):16. doi:10.1186/s12889-018-6360-2

Blogs by Isioma Dianne Okolo, MBChB, DTMH, MRCOG

The menopause is a natural part of the female life cycle. But why do women become invisible after the menopause? Dr Jen Gunter answers my question 'Ain't I A Woman?"

The menopause is a natural part of the female life cycle. But why do women become invisible after the menopause? Dr Naghat ARif answers my question " Ain't I A Woman?"

In this game of gonads, who decided that a testicle is worth more than an ovary?

To deputise a complete stranger to interfere with a woman’s health choice is constitutionally, medically, morally and ethically wrong. That's the end of my sentence.

Cervical cancer can be prevented. When detected early it can be treated and cured with surgery. As we mark the one year anniversary of the "Cervical Cancer Elimination Day of Action", I reflect on the role of surgical systems in eliminating cervical cancer.

Adolescents make up 16% of the population and straddle the sometimes uncomfortable gap between childhood and adulthood. Seeking out information on the internet makes sense but at what cost?

Periods don't have to cost us education, equity and the environment

We had no say in the decision of when, how, where and to whom we were born. Yet this was one of the most important decisions in our lives, which continues to impact us today.

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