Samuel Bello, Abuja
The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Women Affairs has launched a project to distribute about one million sanitary pads to women and teenage girls in the country in order to cushion the effect of COIVD-19.
Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, launched the project at Kado village, Abuja, in a ceremony organized by the ministry with support from Water Supply Sanitation and Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and other stakeholders to commemorate World Menstrual Health and Hygiene Day. The Minister lamented lack of access to menstrual health and hygiene products, education and sanitation facilities by vulnerable women and teenage girls.
She disclosed that each beneficiary would receive at least four packs of sanitary towels.
According to her, the project tagged, “One Million Pads Distribution Project” targets adolescent girls in all states of the federation.
“This project is hinged on the fact that girls’ and women’s choices of menstrual hygiene materials are often limited by costs, availability and social norms. Therefore, providing access to menstrual hygiene products will go a long way to solve the problem to a great extent,” the Minister said.
She further commended development partners, especially WSSCC and others for providing technical and financial support to the Ministry for Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management (MHHM).
She also applauded the First Lady, Aisha Muhammadu Buhari for her benevolence in supporting Nigerian women and girls and thanked Procter and Gamble for providing 4000 sanitary towels to kick off the first phase of the project.
While acknowledging that COVID-19 pandemic has further worsened access to menstrual management materials, Elizabeth Jeiyol, WSSCC National Coordinator for Nigeria urged all stakeholders to team up to change the negative social norms surrounding menstruation so that women and girls can practice menstruation in dignity.
She said: “Poor knowledge and understanding of menstruation may lead to unsafe hygienic practices for women and girls noting that access to menstrual hygiene materials is – a basic human right. Together, we can empower all women and girls to realize their full potentials everywhere in the world. It is commendable to see the contribution of other development partners including Action Against Hunger (AAH), United Purpose, NEWSAN, Youth WASH and OPS-WASH and numerous other CSOs to make this day a huge success.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that effective menstrual hygiene has direct and indirect effects on the overall well-being of women and girls – in the context of education, empowerment and health. However, women and girls face continuous mental, physical and health traumas during their periods – as a result of discriminatory social norms, cultural taboos, supernatural beliefs, gender inequality, and limited access to basic services such as WASH facilities in private and public spaces which leads to ‘Period Poverty’ for women and girls across the world – especially in developing countries like Nigeria.”
Chizoma Opara, acting Coordinator of the “Clean Nigeria” campaign had earlier stressed the importance of institutionalizing menstrual health and hygiene management at all levels in Nigeria.
She added that this can be achieved by putting an end to open defecation in Nigeria through the provision of hygiene facilities for the populace particularly women during their menstrual period.