Nigeria: Clean, Safe Places for Menstrual Hygiene in Schools
Ikwe Racheal, is happy to be in school today despite being in her menstrual period.
Ikwe, is twelve years, a primary six pupil of All Saints Primary School Obrike-Itoin Benue state, Nigeria. She said, “All the girls in the school look forward to being in the school all the time without missing lessons, because our school toilets are clean and well taken care of”.
Ikwe and other girls maintain hygiene while in school because the school’s sanitary facility is always clean. She said, “I cope well during my periods because, my school sanitary facility gives me the space to keep clean during classes”.
I cope well during my periods because, my school sanitary facility gives me the space to keep clean during classes. I am encouraging other girls to maintain regular school attendance even during their monthly periods because they can always access the clean sanitary facilities provided to the school by UNICEF and government”, Ikwe said.
Ikwe is among millions of Nigerian school aged girls who look forward to having their monthly periods in very safe and clean environment. Every young girl in the society has the right to achieve their best possible standard of health and education. Menstruation should not be a barrier to school for a girl child.
“We are lucky to have our school sanitary facility in good condition despite the large population in the school. Some schools lack water and safe places to change and dispose of their pads”, Odeh Blessing Odu, the school’s health teacher said.
With UNICEF, United Kingdom’s Foreign Common Wealth and Development Office (FCDO) and government of Benue state’s support, the water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities in our school was constructed. We also have soap to wash our hands at critical times”, Odeh said.
The onset of menstruation means a new phase and new vulnerabilities in the lives of girls at puberty. Yet, many adolescent girls face stigma, harassment, and social exclusion during menstruation.
Menstrual health and hygiene interventions can help overcome these obstacles. Not only do they fulfil the unmet demand for menstrual hygiene products; they also protect dignity, build confidence, and strengthen sexual and reproductive health, particularly among adolescents.
Gender inequality, discriminatory social norms, cultural taboos, poverty and lack of basic services like toilets and sanitary products can all cause menstrual health and hygiene needs to go unmet”.
This has notable far-reaching consequences for millions of people. It restricts their mobility and personal choices. It affects attendance in school and participation in community life. It also compromises their safety, causing additional stress and anxiety. These challenges are particularly acute in humanitarian crises.
“Across the world, UNICEF primarily supports governments in building national strategies across sectors, like Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Health and Education that accounts for menstrual health hygiene, our programs reinforce gender equality”, said Doutimiye, Kiakubu, UNICEF Nigeria WASH Specialist.
UNICEF is a global leader in menstrual health hygiene activities, through development and humanitarian programmes, we commit to building programmes that increase confidence, knowledge, and skills and improve access to materials and facilities for adolescent girls to safely manage their menstruation safely and with dignity” Kiakubu said.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNICEF Nigeria.