A shy Afghan school girl hides behind a door”, Photo: G. A. Volb/NATO Training Mission Afghanistan.

Deprived of her name, a women ceases to exist. She cannot be addressed for who and what she is, a human being in her own right. The only way to speak of her is to link her to a function – a daughter, a wife, a sister, all of a man. Afghan women are now fighting back, demanding their names to be said out loud, to be put on birth certificates and tombstones.

Hushing up something to make it disappear is a universal phenomenon. And it isn’t just men trying to make women disappear; it is everyone who pushes a problem out of sight by not giving it a name – or not using the name it has. Most prominent perhaps are woman who go out of their way to not let anybody know it’s “that time of the month again”. The fact that almost every woman has her period pretty regularly is a biological trait, a healthy necessity that cannot be stopped by pretending it’s not happening. We are imposing a situation in which if we don’t say anything, nobody will think about it. And it translates to many more parts of our lives we hush up, not wanting to bother or disturb someone, to make him or her uncomfortable with a given fact no one can change. Ageing, body image issues, pay gap, sexual orientation, everyday sexism – don’t say, don’t see.

This needs to change. We need to call a spade a spade, call women by their names, call periods and crazy hormones what they are, and accept others for doing the same. Say it out loud, and be proud.

-Kristina Kraemer
Junior Editor
Girl News International

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