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Exclusive: Janet Mbugua recalls the first day of her menses

Renowned media personality Janet Mbugua recently shared her personal experience of having her first conversation about menstruation with her parents.

In an interview with Nairobi News, the mother of two revealed the details of that significant moment and discussed her upcoming plans to commemorate Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28.

Recalling her first encounter with menstruation, Janet vividly recounted waking up on a school day to find herself in a pool of blood.

Initially terrified, she said she thought she was dying. She then rushed to inform her mother, who was also just as surprised since Janet started her period at a relatively young age of 10.

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“She told me to take a bath and then showed me how to wear pads and told me not to let boys touch me,” Janet recounted.

Later that day, Janet remembers her parents congratulating her on entering womanhood.

“Later that day I vaguely remember my parents congratulating me because I was now ‘becoming a woman’ and I was just embarrassed and confused, but there was an air of openness in the home which continued for the rest of my teen years and thank God I had access to pads. So all in all, it wasn’t a bad experience.”

She said this incident is well captured in her book, My First Time.

Janet also discussed her plans to commemorate Menstrual Hygiene Day, where she intends to utilize her digital platforms to raise awareness.

In her role as a board member, she will join girls in Kilifi County to emphasize the importance of menstrual hygiene.

Janet will continue advocating for menstrual justice through ongoing conversations with Kotex, aiming to amplify awareness and work towards ensuring that all women and girls, especially the 500 million who lack access to menstrual products, gain the support they need.

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Highlighting the significance of collaboration, Janet stressed the need for a holistic approach to addressing period poverty.

She called upon leaders and policy-makers to work alongside various sectors in bridging the gaps and creating comprehensive solutions.

In line with this year’s theme, Janet Mbugua revealed her unique symbol for periods: rose petals.

Using rose petals as a representation, she aims to challenge the shame and stigma surrounding menstruation, emphasizing that it is a normal biological function.

Janet shared the inspiration behind this choice, recounting an innocent comment made by her eldest son, Huru who referred to a stain on her pajama trousers as sitting on a “red flower.”

“A few years ago, I had stained my pajama trousers at home. Because my sons are young, Huru, my first born, asked me ‘mummy, did you sit on a red flower’? Which surprised me, that he thought of a flower. Not red paint, not red powder…and it stuck with me,” Janet said.

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