Youth organization leaps to aid female doctors with demands of menstrual cycle
Published: Jan 26, 2021 06:43 PM

A box providing free sanitary napkins at a school in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province Photo: VCG

At a time when the attention of the nation is focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, a Chinese woman is trying to shine a light on the challenges facing female medical workers. 

Many of these medical professionals encounter difficulties that their male coworkers do not, such as dealing with the extra demands of their menstrual cycle while working within heavy protective suits. Noting this, Liang Yu, 25, leapt into action to establish an organization that seeks to give these medical workers a helping hand.

Liang started the campaign to donate menstrual pads and other period products to female medical workers fighting on the frontlines of the COVID-19 epidemic in China in February 2020.

On February 7, 2020, Liang wrote a post on Sina Weibo saying that there are certain problems about which only women are able to empathize with other women. Considering that female medical workers have special needs during their periods, she asked a doctor on the frontline if there was anything she and others could do. The doctor noted in response that access to menstrual products was a major sore point for them. 

Liang then got support from many volunteers who were willing to help gather donations together with her.

Within 10 hours, the campaign acquired more than 2.5 million yuan ($386,000) in funds, which they used to buy and donate over 1.1 million menstrual products to around 85,000 female medical workers on the frontlines, according to an annual summary of the campaign Liang sent to the Global Times.

Liang's campaign received a warm response from Chinese netizens. The related hashtag for the campaign had earned more than 530 million views as of Monday on Sina Weibo.

After helping medical workers working in Wuhan in 2020, the campaign shifted focus to North China's Hebei Province when the epidemic began taking its toll there.

By Saturday, they had worked with 24 hospitals in Hebei and collected over 900 boxes of menstrual products that can help 5,201 female medical workers.

Growing organization 

Liang told the Global Times that she and the other volunteers all worked on the campaign during their time off from work, which left them very tired. Additionally, they also decided to expand their efforts when they saw reports on social media in August 2020 of the financial hardships Chinese women face when it comes to affording products to handle their menstrual cycles.

A charity organization based on the campaign was then born. More than 60 members of the organization are female volunteers.

The organization has not only focused on donating products, but extended their vision to providing education to teens and women on how to properly use menstrual products.

Liang said they have also gone to rural areas in various provinces such as Southwest China's Guizhou to work with local schools to hold workshops for teenagers about female issues.

The organization established boxes providing free sanitary napkins at nearly 500 Chinese schools throughout 32 provinces.

Liang and other volunteers also taught girls to better understand their menstrual cycle and refuse to feel shame about their periods. She compared women's body to the moon and the menstrual cycle to the changes of the moon, which many teens felt was romantic.

"Actually no matter what their economic situation is, all women have similar troubles and confusion," Liang said, noting that the experience of teen girls in rural areas made Liang realize that these girls also have anxiety about their bodies. She learned some girls even began taking low-quality diet pills after their bodies began changing shape during puberty.

"Period poverty is just the tip of the iceberg of female issues," Liang said. Women need more compliments and love as well as confidence that they are great, she added.

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