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“ If my experience is like others', growing up around women who kept this completely natural biological process almost totally hidden, then it's no wonder. There's entirely too much unnecessary cultural shame about what essentially is responsible for all of us being here, and bless these people for doing something about it. ”

DFrankG NPRTuesday, June 16, 2015 7:42 PM

NPR2015-06-18T23:34:39.000Z

When Elynn Walter walks into a room of officials from global health organizations and governments, this is how she likes to get their attention:

"I'll say, 'OK, everyone stand up and yell the word blood!' or say, 'Half of the people in the world have their period!' "

It's her way of getting people talking about a topic that a lot of people, well, aren't comfortable talking about: menstrual hygiene.

Walter is an activist whose mission is to improve hygiene in low-income countries. She works with the group WASH Advocates (WASH stands for "water, sanitation and hygiene"). Her issue is critical. Across the developing world, tens of millions of girls face major difficulties managing their monthly period. According to UNICEF, more than half the schools in the poorest countries lack private toilets. And unlike teenage girls in well-off countries, many in the developing world can't afford (or even find) tampons and pads.

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