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Chaste Inegbedion… man on mission to end period poverty in Nigeria

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As many Nigerians silently suffer the strain of Period Poverty – a situation where a female is unable to afford proper menstrual hygiene products – Chaste Inegbedion has decided to take an unfamiliar step in becoming Nigeria’s own ‘Padman’, by creating a unique initiative that has started to uplift teenage girls from this gory reality.

Last month, during the World Menstrual Hygiene day, Chaste’s initiative dubbed, Padbanque, donated period boxes to over 28 teenagers in Southwestern Osun state. And currently, he is gearing up to host a virtual period box drive aptly captioned ‘Periods Don’t Pause During Pandemics’, to supply more boxes.

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“There is a huge gap and bias when it comes to inter-gender communication surrounding periods,” Chaste said, explaining why more Nigerian men have to take up the fight against period poverty.

His initiative, Padbanque, is a subscription-based social platform dedicated to solving menstrual health puzzles for those who lack access to proper resources. The digital platform for conscious consumers is rooted in Chaste’s firm belief in providing support for teenage girls that caters to their specific period concerns while making the topic easy and convenient for dads by offering subscription-based packages of period products delivered directly to their doorstep. It also provides free period boxes for indigent teenagers.

Chaste also ensures that Padbanque supports only teenage girls and their fathers, to focus on his target of helping to reduce the issues fraught with period poverty and single fatherhood parenting.

On how his crusade against period poverty all started, he tells The Guardian that he “started advocating for Menstrual Health and Hygiene and affordable sanitary products as far back as I can remember because Menstruation is one of the key components of SRHR and the perceptions surrounding menstruation inspired my advocacy. An example is a campaign I led which saw to the revival of a genitally abused girl child —she was a 5-year-old girl by the name Pwashikai Nideono from Adamawa state left to die after suffering Female Genital Mutilation and an urgent financial aid was needed for vaginoplasty. I then started the ‘Save Pwashikai Nideono campaign’ which generated enough buzz and funds for a successful operation. And since then, Pwashikai has been reconciled back to society. That spurred more activities around the promotion of Gender Equality while living in Northern Nigeria as an advocate of the MDGs now known as the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Growing up with lot of Cousins, Nieces and Aunties as my father had to use our home to accommodate those who were coming in to Lagos to pursue greener pasture. I was an errand boy helping out with the purchase of Sanitary Pads at a ‘Younger Age’ for the ‘Adult ladies’ around me. I remember during the Abacha Era, there was a lot of need. In my neighborhood, there was a girl who had been caught stealing a neighbor’s underwear from the washing line. After her punishment, it was discovered that she had begun her periods and menstruated on the only underwear she owned so needed another one to change.”

He noted that being a man on a mission to end period poverty does not attract discrimination from people.

“I get more celebrations rather than the discriminations, because the answer is simple: involve as many men possible! Men have a meaningful part to play in this conversation; as brothers, fathers, uncles, cousins, and teachers to name a few. Only with understanding and awareness of menstruation and menstrual practices are men empowered to act. These actions could be advocating for clean and private bathrooms, role-modeling period positive behavior to students, communicating care and empathy rather than disgust and shame… or even stitching pads for the women in your life,” he said.

He explained that several men have also made their mark in society doing the same thing he does, citing that Padbanque’s parent-company, Padman Africa, was inspired by “an Indian man called Arunachalam Muruganantham, the developer of the low-cost pad manufacturing machines known as the Menstruation Man.”

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As today is father’s day, Chaste calls on men to embrace the war against period poverty because they are necessary to help “change the narrative around menstruation from the stigma it is associated with, to the need for hygienic and safe menstrual health management.”

Chaste believes that “menstruation is an important phase in every woman’s life, which signals growth and biophysical maturity” and it deserves every pound of attention it can muster to avoid the “negative societal reactions that tend to reduce women’s self-esteem and is a social burden for females in many African societies.”

Chaste’s parent company is hoping to attract male investors ‘Father-Figure’ investment to their Tech startup called Padbanque.com. The team recently visited Dallas to meet with the team at Africa House fund to get support for their US Based social enterprise with major interest in Nigeria.

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