By Tina Osoro
A report by UNESCO reveals that one in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses’ school during her menstrual cycle. This is estimated to be about 20 per cent of a given school year.
According to Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, available statistics indicate that about 37 million Nigerian adolescent girls and women of reproductive age lack access to menstrual health hygiene products due to high costs.
Globally, over 500 million women and girls lack adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management (MHM). Inadequate WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) facilities, mainly in public places, including schools, workplaces can pose major challenges to women and girls.
A major constraint to effective menstrual hygiene management is the high cost of sanitary pads as a result of the harsh economic realities in the country. Sanitary pads costs between 250 to 500 on average.
The high cost of sanitary pads in Nigeria has made it arduous for poor girls and women living in rural areas to purchase. Many resorts to unhygienic menstrual practices and materials which further leads to reproductive tract infections (RTIs) and leads to death
This was what prompted Miss Umujeyan Nyerhovwo, a teacher in Adaka Grammar School, Ugborhen Community, Sapele, in Delta State to come up with the “Girl Child initiative” in her local communities to give out free sanitary pads to female students.This is what caught the attention of our correspondent. In an interview with Miss Nyerhovwo on what motivated the initiative, she had this to say:
“I was motivated to start this initiative to help the girls of Adaka grammar school with personal hygiene because most of the girls still use a piece of cloth during their menstrual period, hence coming to school during this time is difficult because they are been laughed at most times, so creating this initiative help us give them free sanitary pad and other personal effects.”
On her challenges so far, she said: “Funding is the major constrain, I wish we had more funding, alot of people are thinking i have funding from companies, what they don’t know is, it my personal savings and donations from private individuals.”how she has been funding this initiative, she said that apart from her savings, the Ugborhen community Excos, most especially the Chairman, Dr Nelson Ukoko and some of her friends, have been supporting the initiative via donations.
She appealed for government collaboration, as well as well-meaning Nigeria, to support the initiative to ensure that she does more than she is doing at the moment.
A J.S.S 2 female student of the school, Miss Oghenetega Apinya, who is a beneficiary of the gesture, said, “I want to thank our teacher and everybody that came together to give us this sanitary pad and deodorants etc, I am really happy, God bless them.”
Another student, Miss Gift Ominije, stated that she normally uses tissue for her menses since her parents could not afford to buy her sanitary pads, she said she was happy that she has received pads twice via the girl child initiative.
Mr Frank Okpako a staff of the school said: “I want to commend the effort of Miss Nyerhovwo it is indeed a laudable initiative, God bless her good work we hope and pray many get inspired by this and reach out as well.”