Despite the lockdown and social distancing being enforced by the government to check the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, recently, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Impact Her World, celebrated the World Menstrual Hygiene Day.
Impact Her World is a Lagos-based NGO with interest in the promotion of the sexual and health rights of the girl-child.
In order not to fall foul of the law in celebrating the annual event on May 28, the group hosted an international webinar in commemoration of the day.
The annual celebration is aimed at promoting a healthy menstrual hygiene culture among women and girls across the world, especially in underdeveloped countries.
Many participants and stakeholders at the interactive seminar suggested ways to attain a clean and safe menstrual experience for women and girls in Africa. They agreed that promoting a healthy menstrual hygiene culture requires collaboration between government, NGOs, individuals and the private sector.
In her opening remarks, the executive director/founder of Impact Her World, Mrs. Nkechika Ibe, said the commemoration of World Menstrual Hygiene Day was geared towards reinforcing actions by government, NGOs, individuals and the private sector to advance the achievement of a clean and safe menstrual experience for women and girls in different parts of the world.
According to her, the event was “a call to action towards demystifying the myths, taboos, stigma and breaking the barriers of information that undermine the general wellbeing of women and girls before, during and after their periods.”
Mrs. Ibe canvassed the promotion of menstrual hygiene in the face of COVID-19, adding that “although menstruation is a natural part of every female and an aspect of a reproductive cycle, most women and girls, face several levels of limitations in carrying out their different menstrual hygiene activities.”
She lamented that practising effective menstrual hygiene in the face of COVID-19 is something unattainable in the lives of most women and girls living in rural areas. Moreover, the girls lack basic amenities of life such as adequate water and food.
In her contributions, a beauty queen and founder of MUG Foundation, Mercy Ndubuisi, said during her visits to various internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in the North-East, she noticed that menstruation was a big challenge for girls there because of a lack of space.
“These girls do not have access to sanitary towels, as some use pieces of rags/cloths and tissue paper, while some do not use anything at all but let it flow,” Ndubuisi said.
For promoting menstrual hygiene management, executive director, Additional Plus Sports and Education Initiative, Dr. (Mrs.) Olwaseun Nariwoh, urged various levels of government to come up with publicity plans and enlightenment programmes.
Similarly, president of Healthy Thinking International, Mrs. Tove Karlsson, said for girls to have a wonderful menstrual experience, they need to have access to sanitary towels and education on menstrual pains.
She emphasised that young girls need adequate education on what is happening to their body during menstruation, adding that men need education on menstrual issues too.
She advised that girls in Nigeria should be taught early about menstruation to debunk the myths and taboos associated with menstruation.
In her closing remarks, Mrs. Ibe thanked all her international partners, especially Next Leaders Initiative for Sustainability (NELIS) Japan, and Healthy Thinking International, Sweden, for their support and advocacy in promoting a healthy menstrual hygiene culture among women, especially in Africa.