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By Emmanuel Daudu

The Nigerian Minister of women affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen has called on stakeholders in the country to join in advocating for normalizing the action, importance of hygiene during menstruation period.

The Honourable Minister Of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline K. Tallen, Ofr, Ksg said this as Nigeria joins other countries of the world in the Commemoration Of the 2021 World Menstrual Hygiene Day held at the Federal Ministry Of Women Affairs Headquarters, Abuja, On Friday, 28th May, 2021.
 
In her words, “today calls for gratitude to the Almighty God, as we jointly host this memorable occasion of the 2021 World Menstrual Hygiene Day.  The commemoration of this day brings today partners from the public and private sectors in advocating for normalizing the action of menstruation and the importance of assessing hygiene during this period.     
 

“The theme for this year’s event is “It’s time for action” to ensure girls and women do not feel limited by their periods through increased education and menstrual hygiene. It emphasizes the need for a joint action to promote good menstrual health and hygiene management and break stigmas that exist around young girls and women during their menstrual cycle.
 
The celebration was institutionalized by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs in 2019 as an annual event to raise awareness in breaking the silence on Menstrual Hygiene issues, providing space for free expression of concerns and demand for supportive and protective environment for the effective and hygienic management of menstruation. It is also aimed at educating the public, young girls and women of reproductive age on appropriate means of managing their cycles in a dignified manner without shame as menstruation is a fundamental issue of human rights, dignity, and public health for every woman.
 
“Ladies and Gentlemen, millions of girls around the world have no idea what menstruation is, let alone how to manage it safely and hygienically when they experience it for time. In most Nigerian cultures, talking about Menstruation is considered a taboo/ shame, disgust and the stigma which is even stronger than open defecation. This negative social norms and practices result in girls being stigmatized and excluded, which undermines their social status and confidence in already turbulent times which means that periods are a significant obstacle for millions of girls to attend and perform well in school.
 
“Globally, girls are forced to miss school due to lack of sanitary items. According to UNICEF, one in 10 African girls skip school during menstruation, this have made some to drop out entirely because this monthly pattern of missing out on education has devastating long term effects, not only in terms of educational development, but also on the psyche of young girls and women.
 
“Inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities, particularly in public places, such as in schools, workplaces, or health centers, can pose a major obstacle to women and girls. In many countries, including Nigeria where schools do not have adequate sanitation facilities, adolescent girls are also likely to miss school, while they are in their periods.
 
“A Pad Bank is today instituted in the Ministry and it will serve as a
model for all Public Institutions including MDAs, Hotels, Banks and indeed even in supermarkets and open markets. This is to enable girls’ anywhere and everywhere to have access to pad in times of emergencies, when suddenly they experience their monthly flow which can come at any point in time without warning.
 

” Ladies and gentlemen, investing in interventions to empower young girls to manage their periods safely, hygienically, with confidence and without stigma, so that they continue to attend and perform well in school once they start puberty is not just the moral right thing to do, it also makes economic sense. We must therefore join hands together in the crusade to empower the girl-child to manage her menstruation safely, hygienically, with confidence, and without shame. If we can achieve this, the chances are that once she reaches puberty, she is more likely to stay in school; Meaning that she is less likely to get married early or have children when she is not yet ready.
 
“The   Federal Ministry of Women Affairs will continue to stress that sexual and reproductive health and quality education is a critical step in ensuring that girls are prepared for the changes their bodies are going through. By addressing the challenges in Menstrual Health Management, we have the opportunity to accelerate the overall development of their families and communities and build the human capital of the entire nation. Let me use this occasion to assure our dear daughters that menstruation is a biological process in the female body. So don’t feel ashamed of it; it is a “Magic moment for the girl-child Celebrate it.”
 
“Already, we have introduced a number of interventions to ensure that  adolescents girls and  women of reproductive age  are able to manage their menstrual cycle with dignity such as the setting up of the Technical Working Groups on MHHM, the  Comprehensive  Stakeholders Survey Analysis and Mapping of MHHM in Nigeria and the training, awareness creation on Menstrual Hygiene and donation of Menstrual items to schools around the 6 Area Councils of the FCT and other States with support from our partners.
 

“Breaking the stigma and silence that exists around menstruation calls for collaboration from relevant stakeholders to ensure infrastructure enablers such as water supply, sanitation, hand washing facility, toilet facilities and an environmentally safe and hygienic disposal system are put in place for healthy management of menstruation. I must at this juncture appreciate the role of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Environment for the successful campaign of hygiene management among families and households on Open Free Defecation and Clean Nigeria Campaign which will go a long way to address some of the challenges of menstruation.
 
“As we appeal to all stakeholders from the public and private sector to ensure that women have access to clean toilet facilities or a convenient place to manage their period in workplaces, schools, or while in transit, I am pleased to launch the Menstrual Pad Bank to take care of emergencies most women face during menstruation and call on others to replicate this in their organizations.
 

 Thanking partners,
” I want to express my appreciation to all the Organization that are partnering with us today, to celebrate this very special day.  I want to recognize the following Organization for your support. Procter and Gamble, UNFPA, Action Against Hunger, Promise Cup, Aids Health, Alora Pad, Tabitha Cumi, GERI Foundation, United Purpose, Water Aid and Centre for Family Health Initiatives”.
 

The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs ensured that UNICEF, Save the Children, Procter and Gamble, UNFPA, Action Against Hunger, Promise Cup, Aids Health, Alora Pad, Tabitha Cumi, GERI Foundation, United Purpose, Water Aid and Centre for Family Health Initiatives and others were heard.

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