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Bisola Adeyemi: Every school should have a sanitary pad bank

By Esther Ijewere
20 November 2021   |   3:05 am
In 2014, people started celebrating Menstrual Hygiene Day to spread awareness about the importance of good menstrual hygiene. It is celebrated on May 28 and the date represents the standard menstrual

Bisola Adeyemi

In 2014, people started celebrating Menstrual Hygiene Day to spread awareness about the importance of good menstrual hygiene. It is celebrated on May 28 and the date represents the standard menstrual cycle of 28 days. Moreover, the month of May represents the 5th month in the calendar, which signifies the five days of period. Periods are a natural phenomenon and visit almost every woman once a month as soon as they hit puberty and till menopause. 

However, some people get uncomfortable the very moment someone mentions the word “period”. We need to drop the shame and start talking more openly and honestly about menstruation, sensitise the society and parents that it is a normal biological process every woman must go through, and it is not something to shy away from.

Bisola Adeyemi and her team at Bevy of the Elites Foundation are committed to educating the society on this topic, and change the socio-cultural perception attached to “Periods.” Since 2018, her organisation has reached out to over 4,500 girls with information on menstrual hygiene and sanitary pads.

A Chartered Accountant, Entrepreneur, Affiliate Marketer, and Girl Child Advocate, Bisola holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Babcock University, and an associate certificate from the prestigious Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. She also recently got certified as a Programme Presenter under the Global Goodwill Ambassadors Foundation for their My Body is My Body campaign.
 
She started her NGO in her final year at the University, and despite all odds and restrictions she experienced in school, she was able to reach out to communities around Alishan Remo and Iperu Remo Ogun State, with information about menstruation, menstrual hygiene, including its truths, and myths. She shares her inspiring journey in this educative and insightful interview.

Growing Up
I AM a believer in Jesus Christ and his finished works. I am the 3rd of six children- five girls and a boy. I am from Osun State. I love to travel and have meaningful conversations. I had the most memorable childhood, from attending school to outdoor games, church activities, school, and church competitions, amongst others that have helped shape me into whom I am today.

How I Founded Bevy Of The Elites Foundation
It was in 2016; I went for a group mentorship session, and I heard God clearly instruct that I start a foundation to teach girls about menstruation, menstrual hygiene, chastity, body awareness, and family involvement in children’s development. It was formerly The Girl Child Foundation, but due to the popularity of the name, we were not able to register it with the Corporate Affairs Commission. This prompted my siblings and me to come up with the name Bevy of the Elites Foundation, which clearly explains our vision and mission, that is: Group of the learned where people, particularly the female gender can learn about their body and development.

Myths That Have Affected Menstruation And Menstrual Hygiene Over The Years
The very common myth: If any guy touches you as a lady, you’ll get pregnant. This myth has been around for as long as I can remember, and I think it is one that has come to stay. Of course, as we grow older, we get to know that not physical touch, but sexual intercourse gets a lady pregnant. This has caused a lot of girls to lose their self-esteem. This has also led to a lot of issues ranging from lesbianism, rage amongst others because teenagers are not told the clear truth from their childhood.

Another myth is that purchasing sanitary materials like pads should be kept private and hidden in non-transparent nylons. Whereas a sanitary pad is like buying toothpaste, bathing soap, and the rest; they are all personal hygiene products. I also hear a lot that a girl should not talk about her period in public as it is a shameful thing and makes one vulnerable when in fact it is not something to be ashamed of.

Balancing School And Bevy Of Elites Foundation
I attended a school where we were only allowed to leave the school environment once a week. I had to plan my calendar to accommodate the NGO programmes in schools around Ilishan Remo and Iperu Remo Ogun State. Most of the time, I usually converse with my friends after the day’s lectures, which must have been well planned out. So, have I ever sacrificed school for any of the Foundation’s execution of a project? Yes! Many times! Shout out to my friends and volunteers that always come through.

My Take On The Ever-Rising Issue Of Rape In The Country
A common assumption is that rape is mostly committed by strangers, which is wrong; the majority of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. Also, no type of clothing is an invitation for sex or implies consent. What a woman was wearing when she was raped is simply not relevant. Rape is never the victim’s fault.

That established, the issue of rape in Nigeria is increasing by the day and all children and teenagers should be educated about this. Parents have a role to play as well. Most children communicate assault to their parent/guardian, but they do not take the kids seriously, which is why rape gets through most of the time.

In many of our programmes at Bevy of the Elites Foundation, we have now incorporated the My Body is My Body Campaign, because we get several girls speaking out about their rape incidence and how they are not safe around a particular set of people and we are also trying our best to ensure that the information about rape is well communicated and handled appropriately.

Why I Studied Accounting, And My Childhood Ambitions
Well, I will say growing up, it was either you choose to be a Lawyer, Accountant, Medical Doctor, or Engineer. I went with the trend at the time and settled to be an Accountant since I chose the commercial line back in secondary school. I would otherwise have become a teacher. I love to teach and that’s one of the things I enjoy doing at Bevy of the Elites Foundation and some other places like the church I attend, Celebration Church International.

Changes And Policies I Would Implement If I Was The President Of Nigeria For A Day
Changes as regards menstruation and availability of sanitary pads, I will make sure every school has a sanitary pad bank where girls can walk in freely to pick up pads on or before their period. I will also sign a bill for all girls to attend school up to the University level. No girl should be left behind because of some cultural beliefs that girls are meant to be in the kitchen. I will also make sure that the educational curriculum in primary and secondary schools is revamped to reflect the reality of the world we live in.

Memorable Events Since The Inception Of Bevy Of The Elites Foundation
All our events/outreaches are memorable, as we get to meet different girls. I will say the most memorable event was when we reached out to girls in Babs Fafunwa (Senior and Grammar Schools) Ojodu, Berger in 2019. The girls came out in their numbers; everyone got a sanitary pad and was happy. You could literally see the glow in their eyes.

I also remembered a community outreach we had in Ikenne Palace, Ogun State, where I and a partner had to publicise the programme on HOPE FM. Many young girls were enlightened, and I also learnt a lot from that community with regard to their way of life and hygiene practices.

Three Women Who Inspire Me And Why
My mum- she is a go-getter. Ever heard of anyone who always knocks out her goals, she does every single time.

Ola Sulaimon- She inspires me because she runs an NGO and is a Chartered Accountant. We have a lot of things in common from the university we attended to how we have patterned our life to be.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala- The first woman appointed to lead the World Trade Organisation (WTO). I mean, she is a woman changing the status quo for the rest of us.

In The Next Five Years
I see myself exactly where God will have me be. Reaching the world for God and contributing my quota to humanity.

Advice To Young Girls
Putting societal pressure out of the way; reduces the level of self-esteem and self-confidence. Some examples are, the ways in which ladies are pressured to get married and have children, and even after having a child, the pressure continues as to when the next child will come, pressures like judgment solely on appearance, pressure to have sex, and abuse substance amongst others. I will let them know that they should not pattern their lives after societal pressure, or they will burn out.