By Ononye VC
Anambra based NGO widely known as Development Centre For Orientation, Discovery And Empowerment (DeCODE )had last Tuesday commemorated World Menstrual Hygiene Day using the opportunity to campaign and draw awareness and educate young girls and parents on how to manage their periods safely.
Founder of the NGO Princess Cynthia Enweonwu-Arinze led the campaign which took them to some remote areas in Ogbaru local government area of Anambra State.
In a statement released to the media, Princess Cynthia Enweonwu-Arinze said the following….
“Given the multiple challenges women and adolescent girls face, it is evident that promoting menstrual hygiene management (MHM) is not only a sanitation matter; it is also an important step towards safeguarding the dignity, bodily integrity and overall life opportunities of women and girls.
With all these findings, the UN set aside 28th of May as Menstrual Hygiene Day which is an annual awareness day to promote, help break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential
“At DeCODE, we hope to achieve a society where every girl can learn, play, and safeguard her own health without experiencing stress, shame, or unnecessary barriers to information or supplies during menstruation. “Meeting the hygiene needs of all adolescent girls is a fundamental issue of human rights, dignity, and public health.”
In fact, according to UNESCO worldwide, 131 million girls are out of school — and 100 million of those are girls of high school age.
In some cases, girls simply don’t have access to sanitary products; in others, they face discrimination and stigma during their periods; in others still, they don’t have educational resources to inform them about safe, sanitary hygiene practices.
That’s why DeCODE and her partners – YTH AFRICA, AWA and DevAID are campaigning to increase access to menstrual services, including reusable sanitary pads for secondary school girls and ensure that girls are kept in school.
Many Girls are Missing School because of lack of access to proper education, resources, girls are often forced to stay home from school during their periods, which leads them to miss anywhere from 10-20% of school days. Sometimes, they drop out of school completely.
UNICEF has estimated that roughly 1 in 10 girls in Africa miss school because of their menstruation each year.
Often, the cost of sanitary products for girls is simply too high, forcing them to skip school to tend to their bleeding. In Nigeria, the average cost of sanitary pad is N400 per 8 pieces stacked in one park. Girls experience the average menstrual flow of five (5) days in a month. This means that an average girl will need to buy two (2) stacked pad which costs N800 and with high level of poverty, girls would rather miss school or use unhygienic material to manage their periods.
Based on this finding, DeCODE has introduced highly recommended reusable pads to selected secondary schools in Onitsha, Umueri, Obeagwe and Ossomala.
In commemoration of 2021 world menstrual hygiene day, DeCODE and partners distributed reusable pads to the girls in hard to reach communities in Anambra, Calabar and Abuja.
By Ononye VC