For the 2020 Education Day, Bays Planet Foundation sensitised young girls of Junior Secondary School, Dutse Alhaji, Abuja through a Menstrual Hygiene Symposium. The event held on the 24th January 2020
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development. According to the United Nations report, 258 million children and youth still do not attend school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria complete lower secondary school and some four million children and youth refugees are out of school. Their right to education is being violated and it is unacceptable.
Unarguably, girls suffer more than boys in terms of missing out on education. In the north-east of Nigeria only 41 per cent of eligible girls receive a primary education, 47 per cent in the north-west. Social attitudes can also impact negatively on education rates especially in northern Nigeria. In north-eastern and north-western states, 29 per cent and 35 per cent of Muslim children, respectively, attend Qur’anic education, which does not include basic education skills such as literacy and numeracy. These children are officially considered out-of-school by the Government. More so, girls remain vulnerable physically and mentally within the educational walls.
Issues Arising from Poor Menstrual Hygiene
Menstrual Hygiene Management is described as the process whereby “women and adolescent girls use a clean menstrual hygiene management (MHM) material to absorb or collect blood that can be changed in privacy as often as necessary for the duration of the menstruation period, using soap and water for washing their bodies as required and having access to facilities to dispose of used menstrual management material” (UNICEF, WHO 2014).
Schools are potentially important settings in relation to MHM. Lack of appropriate facilities such as gender segregated improved toilet facilities, adequate safe water supply in schools for washing hands and soiled clothes, facility for drying of clothes and absence of sanitary menstrual materials can prevent girls from safe hygienic management of their menstruation. These may result in absenteeism, reduced level of concentration in class, low participation in outside school activities like sports and school clean-up as noted by Sommer and Sahin in their 2013 report.
Why Sensitization, Citizen’s Action and participation: The Need
Globally, many women and girls face challenges when managing their menstruation. Failure to address the menstrual hygiene needs of women and girls can have far-reaching consequences for basic hygiene, health and wellbeing, ultimately affecting progress towards the SDG goal of gender equality and dignity for all, including girls within or outside school environment. Bays Planet Foundation we seek to educate and empower young women by introducing reusable sanitary pads as our objectives. In achieving our objective, educating young school girls across the 6 geopolitical zones in Nigeria.
Our Action: Bays Planet Foundation visited Government Junior Secondary School, Dutse Alhaji, Abuja in commemoration of the world Education.
In view of our 2020 project #TrainAndPadHer, we mobilized 217 young girls aged 10 years to 12 years to teach them on Menstrual Hygiene. When we partnered with WaterWideNg and Rural Eye Africa , they brought in their resources to contribute to the course.
We identified out of the 217, 109 have seen their menstruation and 108 have not seen their menstruation. From the 109 girls who have seen their menstruation, over 40% have never seen sanitary material or understand what it is used for. We showed them a practical example of what it looks like by using the “always ultra sanitary pad” and also taught them how to use it. We told them why it is very necessary for every young girl to use sanitary materials during their time of the month.
We encouraged them to take proper care of themselves by ensuring that during this period of the month:
- They must take their bath at least thrice a day,
- Change their sanitary pads every six hours,
- Wash and change their clothes regularly
- To prevent any form of embarrassment, they should learn to properly fix their sanitary pads,
- To always drink more water and also always move around with at least one sanitary pad whenever they notice their period is around the corner; and
- We encouraged them to study the dates of the menstruation.
However, we engaged the 40% who have never seen sanitary materials. We asked them to enlighten us on the alternative materials they use. We identified these young girls use wrappers, thick materials and any other materials that can hold the flow of blood. When we asked why, one student who was brave enough to share with us said “my father and mother said they do not have money to buy pads, so I asked my friends and they told me they use wrappers so I started using wrapper”. There are many other girls who gave similar replies as this girl.
Fact, over 109 young girls have no proper education on menstrual education, 40% of this population have never seen sanitary material. One can imagine the figures from one community secondary school in Abuja against the unidentified numbers in different states in Nigeria.
The symposium identified the following of menstrual challenges for girl child in rural communities, they includes;
- It identified the challenges and hardships many women and girls face during their menstruation.
- It identified the positive and innovative solutions being taken to address these challenges.
- It calls for policy dialogue and active advocacy for the integration of menstrual hygiene management in schools.
- It identified issues affecting the girl child as a result of inadequate menstrual hygiene.
- It identified her inaccessibility to menstrual material as a result of the cost implication on the parent.
To reduce this margin, we will be providing 10,000 young girls aged 10yrs to 12yrs in rural areas of selected areas in Nigeria. To ensure a sustainable society we will train these 10,000 girls to make reusable sanitary pads.
Every young girl deserves to be educated in all knowledgeable areas to develop her, equip her for the future and give her a proper understanding of her identity . Education goes beyond curricular scope, it cuts across academic, social and mental education.
Report compelled by:
Bays Planet Foundation.