Meghan Markle spent part of her January in Delhi and Mumbai, where she came across the very real way millions of girls live.
In an essay for TIME, Markle retold her experience in India and how she consistently came across girls who felt inhibited by the stigma around their menstrual health.
“During my time in the field, many girls shared that they feel embarrassed to go to school during their periods, ill equipped with rags instead of pads, unable to participate in sports, and without bathrooms available to care for themselves, they often opt to drop out of school entirely,” explained Markle.
The stigmatization of menstrual health has often been cited as a barrier for girls in developing countries.
The Gates’ Foundation annual letter this year found that proper sexual and reproductive health education is a gateway to lowering the number of girls who forgo education, are forced into early marriages or become mothers at an early age.
In her letter Markle continued emphasizing just how detrimental not having access to both menstrual health products and adequate education can be for girls.
“When a girl misses school because of her period, cumulatively that puts her behind her male classmates by 145 days,” she wrote.
Markle ends her letter with a fervent plea:
“To break the cycle of poverty, and to achieve economic growth and sustainability in developing countries, young women need access to education.”