Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Federal Government has been urged to subsidise the cost of sanitary pads for girls in rural areas, just like condoms are offered freely in most of its hospitals.
Founder, Pad-Up Africa, Ashley Lori, while leading a sensitisation campaign to rake in one million pads for girls in Abuja, said poverty had led so many young girls to use newspapers and rags as sanitary pads.
She said: “We saw the need for girls having sanitary pads in schools unlike boys having condoms for free. We believe that if you can give boys condoms for free when sex is a choice, you should be able to give sanitary pads for free because girls do not have a choice. Ours should be more mandatory in government policies to have them for free in schools, so that girls won’t miss out of school during their menstrual period.”
She added that over 25,000 sanitary pads had been distributed to schools, maintaining that it was just a tip of the iceberg because of the high proportion of girls who use tissue paper, rags and even leaves in place of sanitary pads.
“We have 62 schools in Abuja, we have reached 18 schools and have covered more than 35,000 girls. We have reached three IDP camps, two in Nasarawa State, one in Minna. We have distributed over 25,000 pads. We are looking at getting one million pads. Our aim is to make sure that government keys into this and see to the distribution of sanitary pads in schools.
“I was shocked to see four girls cluttering around a tree, and I saw blood on a paper. I discovered that one of the girls was trying to change her pad with a newspaper. Another girl told me that she wears up to six skirts, and she keeps removing them as they get soaked in blood and when it gets to the last one she leaves the school easily because it is not fenced.
“If sanitary pad is as low as N350, it should be affordable and accessible to girls. We sensitised a school in Nasarawa State and distributed pads. One of girls told us that her mom refused to allow her use the sanitary pad because she doesn’t want us to get used to it due to its high cost.
“We cannot sustain it. We are pushing for renewable pads. But, as it is, so many people like the conventional sanitary pads. If we make it affordable and biodegradable, it will be better for us,” she added.