Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, (NAWOJ) Ebonyi State chapter, Friday, advocated for menstrual hygiene amongst girls in the secondary school.
The Association made the call during one-day school sensitization tour on sexual and reproductive health rights, sexual and gender-based, to mark this year’s World Menstrual Hygiene day.
The sensitization was organised in collaboration with the USAID-Integrated Health Programme, Ebonyi State, the Youthhub Africa, among other partners.
World Menstrual hygiene day is observed on May 28, every year. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Need to Step Up Action and Investment in Menstrual Health Now.”
The sensitization exercise brought together resource persons who educated the students in the visited schools on menstrual hygiene, girl- child education, sexual rights and prevention of various kinds of Gender – based violence.
The event also featured the distribution of free menstrual sanitary pads to selected female students in all the visited schools.
Schools visited by the group were Abakaliki High School, Great Minds Academy and Nnodo Secondary school, all in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital.
NAWOJ chairman, comrade Nkechinyere Oginyi, while addressing journalists, noted that the benefits of keeping proper hygiene during mensuration cannot be overemphasized.
She charged young girls to always maintain proper hygiene as such will help boast their self esteem and promote physical and psychological well-being.
She said the joint sensitization was necessitated by the need to lead the girls out of ignorance regarding the management of their menstrual flow.
She regretted that poverty could make the girl-child use unhygienic materials like Toilet tissues, pieces of clothes and rags to control her menstrual flow, which could lead to serious infections and diseases.
She further advocated for inclusion of menstrual hygiene in the schools curriculum, assuring that the NAWOJ in the State would soon unveil its full programme against gender-based violence and other challenges of the women and the girl-children.
“We decided to join in this sensitization today because it is very necessary going by the fact that menstrual hygiene is not officially in schools the school’s curriculum.
” It is very important that government invest in menstrual hygiene because it will have a multiplier effect on girl-child education and health.
“Some of our girls, because they do not have the money to buy sanitary pads, could be lured by men in a bid to get money for the pad during their flow” Oginyi explained.
She called for more partners in the fight for the rights and wellbeing of the women and the girl-child.
State Coordinator of Ebonyi Women and Girls Rights Advocates, Mrs Lorieth Nwafor, explained that the Organization is the brain child of Youth Hub Africa.
She noted that the schools sensitization tour was part of the organization’s advocacy as contained in its mandate against all forms of gender-based violence and the advancement of the rights and welfare of women and the girl-child.
Nwafor explained: “EWOGRA is involved in anything that has to do with Rights of the woman and the girl- child.
” We do not have limits; we do a lot of things, including empowerment, skill acquisition.
” We believe that if you have an empowered woman, this issue of violence against women will stop.
On menstrual hygiene of the girl-children, Nwafor emphasized: “We discovered that most parents do not have personal relationship with their children, and that’s where the gap come from.
” Children need to get firsthand information from their parents because if they get it from elsewhere, it could be distorted and deceiving.
“My advise to parents is that they should bring their children, both girls and boys close, make them friends; make them free to talk to them, so that they can unbutton themselves with their challenges before their parents.
“And for government, there is need for government to make the environment conducive and enabling: create job opportunities, and ensure strict implementation of all laws against gender violence such as the Ebonyi State Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law (VAPP).”
Mrs Emilia Okon, Gender Inclusion and Community Engagement Advisor for IHP in the State, identified poverty and ignorance as factors militating against the menstrual hygiene of most girls and women, and called for collective effort towards the fight against poverty.
Okon said: ” Today is World Menstrual hygiene day.
“It is a day we globally bring attention to the issue of menstrual hygiene.
” One of the popular things we know is what is called menstrual poverty, and we really want to do everything we can to reduce the effect it has on young girls in society.
“In Nigeria these days, as you know, buying one Sanitary Pad is costing about N1,500, and it is very expensive for a child, especially in the rural areas.
” So, we are drawing attention of everybody around us, even the government, to first of all remove the taxes on menstrual products in order to lower cost.
“They should also invest on producing what we call the reusable sanitary towels which you can use more than once over a period of six months and one year, so that it can be available and affordable to young women, especially in rural areas.”