•’You’ll be shocked some women over 30, still lack basic knowledge about menstruation’
Africare Nigeria, an International Non Governmental Organization has sensitized secondary school girls across 10 schools in Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Menstrual Health and Hygiene through its Power Forward project.
The awareness programme which held at the Raberto Schools with at least 150 girls across 10 schools in commemoration of the 2019 World Menstrual Hygiene Day which was celebrated May 28.
Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission, FCT Public Health Dept, Dr. Fatima Daggash, speaking at the programme stressed the need for girls to maintain a clean hygiene during menstrual period to avoid infection.
Daggash said it’s important that girls at puberty age gets the right information on menstruation, according to her, most women don’t know the right things regarding menstruation.
She said, “there is the need to give the right information because there are so many myths around menstruation and people don’t know what is right or wrong. Young girls need the right information at the right time so they can pass it on to their friends and sisters. But when we all have the wrong information and our parents have refused to talk to us about the right thing, they go about not knowing what to do when it happens to them.
“A lot of women will tell you that when they were younger they did not even know that they had started menstruating and when they started they did not know what to use or how to use their pads and you’ll be shocked to know that some people even at 30 don’t even know the right things regarding menstruation.”
While harping on the importance of Menstrual hygiene, Daggash advised young girls to keep clean before and during menstruation, wash their hands after changing sanitary towels, regularly changing sanitary towels to avoid infection, regular bath, and use deodorants.
She however, advised against the use of cloths to replace sanitary towels saying they are not hygienic. She also noted that for economic reasons those who can’t afford sanitary towels still use cloths.
To this end, she urged the Federal Government, Non Governmental Organizations to help see that sanitary pads reach young girls either free or at an affordable rate. She also urged the local production of sanitary pads to reduce cost.
Further, Daggash regretted that menstruation still has a negative perception as it’s still considered a taboo or something to be ashamed of coupled with the myths around it.
“People need to understand that menstruation is a normal thing it happens to every girl and it’s God design to prepare girls for motherhood, so it’s something we should not be ashamed of”, she said.
She also informed that some girls depending on their body system can start menstruating as early as 9 years of age. This she said should not be seen as something wrong or witchcraft in some parts of Nigeria stressing that it’s normal.
She however encouraged young girls to talk to their parents, caregivers, or nurses whenever they notice irregularities in their menstruation.
The Senior Head Coach on the Power Forward Project, Ms. Maureen Stanley, said the essence of the activity is to bridge the information gap on issues around menstruation in the society.
Stanley said, the menstrual hygiene day celebration is one of the six community initiative observed in the Power Forward Project.
“The Project is a youth development programme that aims at developing the capacity if youths through four components and one of them is public health and this is one if the major activity we do under the public health component”, she said.
She added, “We are doing this because we have noticed that there a lot of confusion and lots of wrong information associated with menstruation because of lack of education.
“We believe that bringing this education to them will help them reach a wider society, because every knowledge they gain today they will step down.”
One of the students who spoke with THISDAY, Valerie Pappenscheller an SS2 student of Total Child Model School said she had gained so much knowledge from the activity which will help her gain more confidence in herself even during menstruation.
She said, “I have learnt how to count my menstrual circle, how to speak up, be confident. I learnt that during menstruation you are free to perform all your activities, to go to school freely and be confident, not shy so as not to draw attention and I learnt that for first timers if you know something is not right you should not keep it to yourself but open up to people who know.”