Ese Obote-Ogwu, Reporting
EXPERTS have reiterated the need to stem the inability of girls, particularly in the rural areas of Nigeria, to manage their menstrual flow.
The call came during a one-day interactive session organised by Project PAD A Girl Foundation in Asaba, Delta State.
The programme was tagged, “Disrupting Period Poverty In Rural Communities Across Delta State.”
According to the convener of PAD A Girl Foundation, Ms Udoka Ikebuwa, the advocacy became necessary in the face of high mortality rate among young girls due to complications during menstrual periods, which Nigeria had been rated as the highest in Sub-Sahara Africa.
Miss Ikebuwa pointed out that “Poverty Period” was a situation whereby girls in low income communities did not have access to sanitary products or pad, clean water and the right environment to go through their periodic menstrual flow.
She stated that most girls in the villages and rural communities ended up using tissue papers, sometimes, plantain leaves and cotton wool to manage their periodic flow which is a natural phenomenon into womanhood and motherhood.
Delivering a lecture at the event on “Introduction to Menstrual Policies that Work, Using Developed/Developing Countries as Mirror View”, Dr Ijeoma Omenugha, stated that it was high time the state government developed a policy to bridge the menstrual poverty gap in the state to accelerate actions needed to improve the menstrual health and hygiene of young girls.
According to her, “there should be a male support orientation, where the father should be able to talk to their daughters about menstrual period and the girl-child should be free to discuss what pains they are going through with people they think can help them during this period without fear, shame or intimidation.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Pad-Up Creations, Mrs Olivia Onyemaobi; the Director, State Epidemiologist Public Health, Dr. Mildred Okowa- Igumbor, and Dr. Frances Weyinmi, representing the Commissioner for Health, stated that “period poverty” in the rural communities included, but not limited to, lack of menstrual hygiene products, adding that it encompassed a lack of social support from peers, teachers, boys, as well as limited access to facilities during menstrual periods.
They insisted that lack of menstrual facilities included absence of disposable facilities for menstrual pads, lack of menstrual products, toilets where the girls could change their menstrual pads, hand washing facilities, and even lack of management support, especially from the male counterparts at school.
In the panel session, the Director of New Media, Ministry of information, Mr Stella Macaulay, said that adequate information should be made available to the girl-child, especially in the rural communities, to enable them understand what menstrual period entailed and prevent casualties associated with menstrual cycle among women.
Dignitaries present during the event included the Commissioner for Girl Child and Humanitarian Services, Ms Orode Uduaghan, represented by Mrs Ochuko Erhunmwunse; Barrister Bridget Okonkwo of St Philips Anglican Church, Asaba, and Hon. Bridget Anyafulu, Member representing Oshimili South Constituency in the state House of Assembly, represented by Hon. Clement Odukwe, among others.
Highpoint of the event was the distribution of sanitary pads to young school girls who attended the programme by the convener, Project PAD A Girl Foundation, Ms Udoka.