By Justina Auta
An NGO, Tabitha Cumi Foundation, has donated sanitary products and sensitised students of Junior Secondary School, Kado-Kuchi, FCT, on menstrual hygiene and Gender Based Violence (GBV).
The Executive Director of the foundation, Mrs Adetayo Erinle, said the effort was part of activities to mark the 2021 Menstrual Hygiene Day with a theme: “We need to Step Up Action and Investment in Menstrual Health and Hygiene Now!”
Erinle said the organisation engaged in the exercise to educate the young girls on menstrual hygiene, which had forced some of them to miss some school days due to inability to access sanitary pad during their period.
“And many of them, for their periods, they use rags and because of that they are ashamed, they don’t want anybody to know about it, they hide it.
“And it actually stops girls from coming to school, there are girls who miss those five days of the month, every month.
“And if they keep missing those days in a month, how will she be able to complete her education?
“So what we are doing is to support girls so that they will remain in school and complete that circle of education by giving them the right information, debunking the myths and taboos around menstruation,” she said.
She revealed that the organisation has trained girls in some selected rural communities on how to make and manage reusable pads to eliminate the challenges of inaccessibility of sanitary products during menstrual period.
“Girls in rural areas we teach them how to make reusable pads and to keep it in good condition, how to dry it and use it again so that they don’t have infections,” she said.
The director said the sensitisation on GBV would educate them on their rights, all forms of violence and appropriate persons to seek help when faced with such challenges in order to eliminate the practice in the society.
“We are also teaching them to be aware, there is a lot of GBV going on now, during the lockdown girls within the age of 10 and 14 from a research we conducted were the highest affected.
“So what we are saying is that if you see something inappropriate, talk about it, don’t hide it, if you see something say something.”
She revealed that the organisation has created safe spaces for girls to access counselling, care and ensure justice for survivors of GBV.
“We are creating safe spaces for girls in schools and in the communities so that they can have people that they can trust to tell their issues.
“So that we can break this culture of silence around GBV and also support girls to live in dignity so that they can achieve their potentials,” she said.
The Desk Officer, Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs Adaeze Nwabueze, said the government was committed towards improving the health of every Nigerian, particularly women and children.
“The government is doing possible efforts to make sure the young adolescent ones are been educated because some of them see it as a taboo and hide it away from people and unfortunately some of them fall into wrong hands,” she said.
Also, Mrs Kemi Ndieli, the Deputy Country Representative, UN Women, Uganda, encouraged the students to know their rights and always speak out, when faced with any form of abuse.
Mrs Raquel Daniel, MHM Consultant, encouraged the students to build their knowlege on menstrual hygiene from credible sources.
Daniel also advised the students to seek medical care when faced with conditions such as heavy menstrual flow and missed or scanty periods for proper diagnosy and management.
Speaking on behalf of the students, Miss Emmanuella Maiyaki, said the sensitisation has further broadened her knowledge on GBV and menstrual hygiene.
“If you don’t understand anything about your body, you can always go to teachers, mum and dad, anybody you feel you can trust or knows something about menstruation to teach you about your body,” she noted.
On her part, the school Principal, Mrs Uwem Idiok, represented by Mrs Chioma Obi, commended the organisation and the government for their support.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that sanitary products such as sanitary pads, hand wash and sanitisers, face masks and some snacks were distributed to the students by the foundation. (NAN)