WINDHOEK – Learners around Windhoek gathered at A. Shipena Secondary School to commemorate Menstrual Hygiene Day in the capital yesterday.
Dignitaries who attended the event included healthcare providers and teachers. The aim was to create awareness among learners that there is no shame in menstruation and that boys should be involved to help girls in overcoming the menstruation stigma.
Sanitary towels were also donated at the event and would be distributed to girls and young women in rural areas.
Johanna Nanguti, a learner at Khomasdal Primary School, shared with the Youth Corner how she was bullied because she could not afford sanitary pads. She expressed relief that there are campaigns to educate young men and boys that there is no shame in menstruation.
“I could not wait for the menstrual hygiene day, especially for boys to be cautioned against bullying girls who cannot afford sanitary pads. First of all, I did not understand why I was being bullied for going on my periods, it is natural and everyone should accept it,” the Grade 7 learner said emphatically.
Alina Daniel, a learner at Ella Du Plessis Secondary School, said creating awareness on menstruation and hygiene is commendable as the confidence of many girls would be restored and hopefully, boys could be more understanding and desist from making a mockery of girls and young women who are on their period.
“I am more of women advocator and I don’t believe in menstrual shame, it is unfair of us as boys to shame girls for messing up when they are on their period. I don’t understand why people do it anyways, I mean it is natural and we should accept girls as they are without embarrassing them for going through a natural process,” commented another learner Moses Tjingura who is in Grade 12.
Speaking at the formal event, Rosalia Muashekele-Sibiya the special advisor to the Governor of Khomas Region, Laura McLeod-Katjirua, said a learner who does not have access to medication or psycho-social support cannot thrive. Equally, a learner who is not clean and cannot make use of improved sanitation facilities will not easily integrate with their peers, said Muashekele-Sibiya. She was speaking on behalf of the governor.
“When girls do not have access to sanitary products they are forced to make use of unsanitary and ineffective materials, which can introduce infections and cause discomfort,” Muashekele-Sibiya added.
She implored the various communities including parents, principals, teachers and learners to ensure that they all value the importance of hygiene and understand the vital role that sanitary pads play.
“Let us continue to work together to promote healthy behaviours and habits and ensure that we are providing the best conditions for our children,” she advised.
Meanwhile, the Regional Aids Committee for Education administrative officer in the Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture, Janine Cloete, said menstrual shaming results in young girls having sexual intercourse with older men to get money to buy sanitary pads.
“When people are told about how serious menstruation shaming is, they do not really look into the bigger picture of the situation. The children can be infected with HIV and AIDS by taking unsafe decisions just to afford the sanitary pads. This is a very serious matter,” Cloete cautioned.
Meanwhile, Women’s Action for Development (WAD) also took the initiative to educate both boys and girls on menstrual health management last week at schools around Windhoek.
The WAD project manager, Tatiana Sikwila, said: “We believe that if we involve everyone then the menstrual shame and absenteeism rates will be reduced among girls.”
Menstrual Hygiene Day will be commemorated annually on May 30.
2019-05-29 10:58:02 3 months ago