May 28th is a day set aside globally to create awareness for menstrual hygiene. Menstrual hygiene day was initiated by WASH UNITED in 2013 and has since been adopted as Menstrual hygiene day all over the world.
Strong Enough Girls Empowerment Initiative joined the world to mark this day in Lagos and Abuja. The Abuja event was organized in collaboration with Aids Healthcare Foundation at Highway Academy, Wuse 2, Abuja. The session sought to create awareness and educate young girls and women on the importance of menstrual hygiene, challenges, reliable and effective ways of maintaining menstrual hygiene. The session had in attendance, young girls from six schools in Abuja. Also present were guest speakers from the ministry of health, ministry of women affairs and ministry of education.
Important questions such as effective ways to dispose used sanitary pads, dealing with menstrual cramps, role sex has in the reduction of menstrual cramps, etc., were raised. The participants and guest speakers also shared there opinions as regards the questions. At the end of the event, over forty thousand (40,000) sanitary pads were distributed by AHF.
Lagos was not left out of the menstrual hygiene day events as a two day outreach was organized by the Strong Enough Girls Initiative in Iyana-Ishashi community. Like the Abuja event, the purpose was to sensitize young girls on the importance of maintaining proper menstrual hygiene.
The highly interactive event started with the girls stating their opinions on how they had been maintaining menstrual hygiene. Community outreach officers from SEGEI further educated the girls on proper menstrual hygiene conduct and debunked negative myths related to girls and menstruation. They also encouraged the girls to see the process as a normal way of life. Participants went home with sanitary pads and bars of soap.
What comes to mind quickly during these sessions is the glaring revelation that there are still girls even in peri-urban regions unable to afford menstrual hygiene products as well as adequate clean water to maintain their hygiene during their periods. We therefore enjoin other stakeholders to join in solidarity to hold government accountable to ensure that women and girls are top priority and are fully represented in policies that affects them. We want the government to tackle the high cost of sanitary products and make available free sanitary products and clean water for girls in displaced camps and marginalized communities.
When girls have access to resources, they thrive, the economy thrives! Everyone wins.