It was the Peruvian women of the Cloud Forest who showed us clearly: the menstrual charting calendar needed to be revised. The Quechuan nurses aced the Ambassador of Women's Health Training in just one day and said afterward, "The part that we didn't know is that we can have fun teaching this." The next day they had the women engaged, and yes, laughing. It was impressive. Menstrual chart instruction was next. The nurses opted to instruct about them in calendar months mode, though it is just as valid, and perhaps even more effective to use it without reference to months. I was surprised at that choice. The women said, "Oh. We can't do that. But when our husbands come back from giving tours we can have them do it for us." I tried to get them to show the less challenging way to use it, but the decision had been made. They believed they could not do it. This was, of course, the exact opposite of our intention.
Tracking your period turns out to be a life-changing skill. We've been including education and a printed chart in every Days for Girls Kit for years now. We instruct in two different ways to use it so that calendar literacy was not a requirement for usage.
The women had enjoyed the afternoon and celebrated their DfG Kits, in fact, they were even upset with their leaders for not telling them what they were receiving, saying, "If you had told us, we would have brought everyone." And they were clearly enthusiastic about being able to chart their cycles, but the thought of them waiting to have their husbands do it when they could easily do it themselves continued to nag at me. What if we didn't have months on any chart? It would work even better, the pattern of cycles would be easier to see. The translations would be easier.
So I called the President of our DfGI Board, Dr. Karen ObGyn. She has served on the American College of ObGyn's for years and leads a residency program for new ObGyn's. She is the ObGyn of ObGyn's. I ran the idea past her. She agreed with the idea. A few more programmatic check-in's and a new update was born-- no more calendar months on our menstrual charting cards. This is just one piece of our deep commitment to listening and responding to the needs of those we serve.