With my last article still making rounds of conversation on social media, this week, I will keep it a little lighter; menstruation hygiene. May 28th marks international Menstrual Hygiene Day. This was started to create awareness around the topic of period poverty and the stigma associated with it. Its mission is also to break the silence and taboo, raise awareness and change negative social norms surrounding menstrual hygiene management around the world.
Why May 28th? Well, the average interval of a menstrual cycle is 28 days. On average, women and girls menstruate for five days per month. Hence 28-5, or the 28th of May was chosen to mark this day.
As much as this conversation has been exhausted, the fact still remains that a lot of girls in our country are experiencing period poverty. With many campaigns happening and the period drives, there is only so little that they assist with. When the drives are over and the campaigns are
done, the sanitary items also finish and at the end of the day, you sit with a lot of village girls who have no sanitary items and cannot afford any. To make matters worse, you often have a larger demographic that has little to no knowledge of menstruation. Poor menstrual hygiene caused by a
lack of education on the issue, persisting taboos and stigma, limited access to hygienic menstrual products and poor sanitation infrastructure undermines the educational opportunities, health and overall social status of women and girls around the world.
In most villages around the country, most young girls either have to reuse pads that they have to wash or use a cloth. Already, we know the health implications that come with those such as urinary infections, urinary tract infections, or fungal infections.
If you don’t change your pad for a long time it can cause vaginal yeast infections and rashes. Using cloth and bigger size shapes can lead to rashes due to friction between the thighs. Some women may suffer from genital infections due to poor menstrual hygiene or pelvic pain, which could lead to infertility, and with the cycles differing from woman to woman, you can imagine the torture a girl has to go through for a period of two to seven days of using either cloth or washing used pads just to use it again. With many places not having access to clean water and or scarcity of it, you can imagine the type of ordeal these girls experience during their menstruation.
In 2021, information deputy minister Emma Theofelus tabled a motion in parliament for the tax charged on sanitary pads to be removed or reduced to 3%. To date, this motion has only been discussed that day and no further arrangements have been made. In 2016, a similar motion wasintroduced by Popular Democratic Movement president McHenry Venaani, but parliamentarians shied away from discussing menstruation. This goes to show that the girl child is never fully represented and has their livelihood considered for. Until when do we deprive the girlchild of affording and having access to something of importance to them?
The government should be distributing sanitary items to schools every month, especially in rural areas where schools are far from towns and where most girls are from disadvantaged backgrounds.