Menstruation is every woman and every woman is menstruation, it is a normal biological process and a key sign of reproduction. Yet in some cultures women are made to see Menstruation as dirty and shameful; to the extent that young girls sometimes miss school due to the myth around menstruation.
The continuous silence around menstruation coupled with limited access to information at home and schools have not helped young girls and women who in most cases have to tackle the emotions and hygiene issues around menstruation all by themselves. This has left many of them with little or no knowledge of what happens to their bodies during menstruation.
Studies carried out by Water Supply and Sanitation Collaboration Council (WSSCC) through its members in some States in Nigeria in 2016 showed some women believing menstruation myths as some kind of sickness and blood flows from the stomach and not uterus. Faced with challenges such as taboos, limited access to affordable hygienic sanitation materials, disposable options as well as rejection by spouses and society during menstruation; women and girls may not be able to manage their period safely. These challenges are further exacerbated by insufficient access to safe and private toilets as well as lack of clean water and soap especially in the communities.
Effective management of menstruation starts with education and this brings us to this year’s theme “Education about Menstruation Changes Everything” which advocates for education about menstruation hygiene changing everything; changing every negative perception ought to be all inclusive – involving men, women, boys and girls. All should know that menstruation is not a taboo and the wrong myths attached to it should be deterred.
The education should be such that portends it for what it is- Pride of womanhood. For when all stakeholders understand menstruation, the shame a woman feels while on her period will be dealt with and when a girl in school is stained by blood instead of being mocked – a boy will gently tap her and communicate to her and she will without shame appreciate and go for a change. This will ensure better management of menstruation. Is this possible?
Yes, it was on this background that Water Supply and Sanitation Collaboration Council (WSSCC) in collaboration with Women Environmental Programme (WEP) carried out education awareness on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) to enlighten the students of Government Junior Secondary School Apo Legislative Quarters on 30th May, 2017, to mark this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day. They also called on government and policy makers to;
Promote women’s right to economic and productive resources by supporting the share of free sanitary pads in the same spirit they support sharing of condoms.
Provide education on menstrual hygiene so that women and girls feel confident and are empowered to make informed decisions about how to manage their menstruation.
Integrate menstrual hygiene education into national school curriculum, policies and programmes for adolescents.
Provide water and sanitation facilities in schools, public and work places so that women and girls can manage their menstrual flow hygienically.