NIGERIA. Niger: Female students across Nigeria are demanding that the federal government make Sanitary pads available to them for free.
This, according to the students, would enable those who are not financially viable to get sanitary pad during their menstrual periods to be able to use them without the worries of how to procure them.
The female students observed that lack of sanitary pads has resulted to girls getting stained while in school, vagina infection for those who use tissue papers and clothes and sometimes absence from school during the days they have their menstrual periods.
Female Students in Government Girls Secondary School, Bosso Road, Minna made the appeal for other female students across the country during a free distribution of pads campaign to their school.
Demands of the Girls
Some of the girls who spoke to Transcontinental Times after a ‘Pad A Girl’ Campaign organized by Media Mentors Network in collaboration with Succeeding Against All Odds and Niger state chapter of the Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria (NRHJN).
The Campaign was made to commemorate the World Menstrual Hygiene Day.
Some of the female students disclosed that most often, during their menstrual periods, they do not attend schools while others say they use clothes and tissues instead of sanitary pads because they do not want to miss school.
Hansia Abu, a JSS 3 student said, “pads are sold from N300 above but most often, I do not have the money to buy it. There are times I have to trek to school just not to miss school, and when I ask for money for pads from my parents, they will say there is no money. So often, I have no choice but to use cloth when the monthly comes.
“It will make a lot of impact if these pads are made free of charge for us. I heard that some family panning drugs are often given free, why can’t sanitary pads be given free? I know the government can help us in this aspect. It will boost our morale and academic performance.”
Eucheria Monday, another JSS 3 student said that she often avoid school when she is on her menstrual flow because she has no pad to stop the stain.
“The stain is often embarrassing. Imagine when you sit and stand up and you see people start smiling and laughing pointing at you, you just know at that moment that you are stained.
“As I am here, I started my period last year November and I have not used sanitary pads for up to two times I have menstruated. That is why I usually stay at home when I am seeing my menstruation. If there is a place we can collect free pads monthly, I will be very happy.”
Several other female students who also spoke to The Reporter said that the donation of sanitary pads by the Initiatives who visited the school for the World Menstrual Hygiene Day would help them for a month but they asked for a continuous distribution of free sanitary pads from governments at all levels.
The ‘Pad A Girl’ Campaign
The Pad A Girl Campaign was a collaboration by three organizations, the Media Mentors Network, Succeeding Against All Odds and the Niger state Chapter of the Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria.
The target was 1000 female students in two public schools in Minna metropolis but there was resources for 500 female students.
The beneficiaries were female students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Bosso Road in Minna.
Sensitizing the students on menstrual hygiene, the Executive Director, Kings Foundation, Aisha Wakaso told the students that several factors influence difficult experiences with menstruation.
She listed inadequate facilities, lack of access to sanitary pads, menstrual pain and inadequate knowledge about the menstrual cycle as part of these experiences.
Wakaso then advised the girls on adequate Menstrual Hygiene management urging them to keep themselves clean to prevent infections and other disorders.
“Be nice to other girls when you realize that they are in their periods. It will help them to be more comfortable taking care of themselves. Never laugh at anyone who accidentally gets stained and never be ashamed of menstruation as it is a condition given to you by God that makes you unique.”
The Executive Director, Succeeding Against All Odds, Dr Valda Martins also spoke to the students urging them to confide in their parents or anyone they have confidence in whenever they face problem regarding menstrual issues.
She stressed the need to dispose of their sanitary pads and tissues properly and to wash the clothes used in place of pads properly.
The Niger state Coordinator of the Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria, Hajiya Habiba Alabura Dauda explained that the network collaborated with the other individuals for the campaign to make much impact on the girls.
She pointed that government can eradicate period poverty by making provision for sanitary pads to be available free of charge to girls of secondary schools.
“When the girls get these sanitary pads without paying for it, it will take away a lot of stress and thinking of how to address the issue of getting stained during the monthly menstrual flow.
“We know that government can do this. Sanitary pads can be added to other reproductive health products that are already being given free to the populace. These girls need this a lot because a lot of them cannot afford to get these sanitary pads monthly.”
Reason for the Campaign
The Convener of the Pad A Girl Campaign, Justina Asishana said that the campaign was initiated to create awareness about menstrual hygiene and bring the attention of the government regarding period poverty, especially among female students.
She said that the target of the campaign was to reach out to 1000 female students with sanitary pads but resources were only available for 500 sanitary pads saying that donations were gotten from well-meaning individuals to support the campaign.
Asishana said that donations were called from the public and interested donors contributed money for sanitary pads while others provided the Sanitary pads and gave to the Organization.
What is Menstrual Health Hygiene?
Menstrual health hygiene refers to access to menstrual hygiene products to absorb or collect the flow of blood during menstruation, privacy to change the materials, and access to facilities to dispose of used menstrual management materials.
Menstrual health hygiene can be particularly challenging for girls and women in developing countries, where clean water and toilet facilities are often inadequate.
Currently, there are about 3.73 billion women in the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 52% or 1.9 billion of those women are of reproductive age, which means they are menstruating.
Women at some point in their life will go through the reproductive age and thus, will experience menstruation. It has been estimated that daily 300 million women are menstruating.
Many adolescent girls and women of menstruating age live in poor socio-economic environments.
663 million people lack basic access to safe water, and 2.4 billion people lack adequate access to basic sanitary conditions.
It has been estimated that half a billion or 13% of women lacked a place to defecate, have little to no privacy for menstrual hygiene management, while a quarter of those lack access to soap and water.