WaterAid says collective efforts crucial to break the silence on menstruation

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Participants at the 2023 World Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management (MHHM) day event held on Wednesday in Abuja

WaterAid Nigeria has called for collective efforts to break the silence and misconceptions about menstruation in Nigeria.

Ms Nanbam Michael, WaterAid’s Project Manager, made this appeal at an event organised by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs to commemorate the 2023 World Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management (MHHM) Day in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated annually on May 28, to raise awareness about the challenges women and girls face and to highlight solutions that address such.

According to her, removing all barriers and misconceptions that hinder self-esteem, dignity and safety of women and girls while menstruating, will go a long way to improve their wellbeing.

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She said there was need for clear policies and programmes that would help in promoting menstrual health and hygiene management for women and girls in the country.

According to the WaterAid Project Manager, the UN General Assembly recognises the day as worth celebrating and sees menstruation as a human right, calling on relevant governments to seek out ways to improve access to information and materials for menstrual hygiene.

“This day is special for both boys and girls, menstrual hygiene is standing on three points of breaking the silence, using of menstrual products hygienically, and the disposal of menstrual materials safely.

“So breaking the silence is to talk about it, let everyone know about it, so that it becomes a general topic.

“Girls will not be shy, girls will not be under any pressure. I see boys playing outside, I was going to talk about it and say, why are the boys playing outside, they should be inside.

“If we break the silence, it is more important for them to know, because information have come in that while in school, some boys usually laugh at or mock them.

“By the time the boys are aware that this is normal, they will support the girls in terms of emotional support, the boys will grow up with life skills and also support their spouses and daughters in the future”.

Micheal noted that WaterAid has been supporting the Federal Government through the Ministry of Women Affairs, in the development and institutionalisation of the National Action Plan on MHHM.

Mr Job Ominyi, the UNICEF Representative, said the 2021 multi-cluster indicators revealed that 17 per cent of females between 15 and 24 were hindered in active participation in socioeconomic activities, as a result of the limitation placed by menstruation.

“UNICEF has been an advocate for children and women’s rights worldwide, the day highlights the need to make sure that menstruation is seen as a normal way of life.

“We must ensure that materials and information are available to manage menstruation and ensure that facilities are safe for proper management in terms of changing”.

Mr Kennedy Ezirim, the Global Coordinator, Yagazie Foundation, also called on all stakeholders to increase investment in programmes and interventions towards addressing MHHM.

This, he said, would ensure that menstruating women and girls practiced menstruation in dignity and are able to attain their full potentials.

Ezirim said it would also reduce diseases and deaths that could occur due to lack of access to safe materials and facilities in the country.

“We have a new government which is promising to collaborate, empower and finance, government agencies, NGOs and other related organisations to be able to carry out their initiatives to combat poor menstrual practices in Nigeria.

“We at Yagazie Foundation have been working to change this narrative and we will continue to do this,” he said.

Earlier, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr Aliyu Shinkafi, said the Federal Government was committed to stepping down intervention programmes on Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management at all levels of government.

This, he said, would be done by leveraging on partnership and support to meet the hygiene needs of adolescent girls, which is a fundamental issue of human rights, dignity, and public health.

Shinkafi said as part of contributions to promoting good menstrual hygiene in work places and schools, the ministry had carried out series of campaign to MDAs and Schools through the support of key development partners.

“The Technical Working Group Members worked to ensure that good menstrual hygiene is promoted across our working environment and schools.

“Part of these activities were courtesy visits to some MDAs to establish a PadBank in their work places.

“Just recently, the Ministry distributed 39,000 reusable pads to 12 states, created awareness on menstrual health and donation of sanitary pads to students of government schools,” he said.

Highlights of the event were the distribution of sanitary supplies to the schoolgirls, quiz competition and poetry, among other activities. (NAN)

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