Breaking the Stigma Around Menstrual Health
Did you know that one in ten girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school during her menstrual cycle? This means that in any given school year, some girls are at risk of being absent up to 20 percent of the year, simply because they do not have the resources to manage their menstrual hygiene effectively.
Initiated by the German-based NGO Wash United, Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day), which falls on May 28 every year, has blossomed into a global awareness day highlighting the importance of good menstrual hygiene care and management. The 28th was strategically selected to acknowledge the fact that the average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days.
There are many factors that affect the ability of girls in low-income countries to manage their periods effectively. Cost is a big issue. In Nigeria, the average cost of a pack of sanitary pads is N400 ($1 US) while the reality is that up to 50 percent of Nigerians live close to or below the poverty line, surviving on less than $2 US a day. Availability also plays a key role. Most girls have to travel many kilometers from home to find shops where they can purchase affordable sanitary pads and other hygiene products. In cases where they are unable to access these products easily, girls have been known to resort to using whatever materials are available, including toilet paper and leaves. Finally, social norms also play a big role in influencing attitudes and perceptions around menstruation and menstruating girls. In some cultures, menstruating girls are considered unclean and encouraged to isolate themselves while they are on their periods. This has an overall negative impact on girls as it means they have to miss out on school and other daily activities due to a normal, biological process that is beyond their control.
In Nigeria, Give Girls A Chance is working alongside other organizations to dispel the negative and damaging myths and misconceptions around menstruation. Our goal is to improve awareness around menstrual hygiene and support young girls by improving access to menstrual hygiene kits.
In support of MH Day, we’ll be running a Menstrual Health Awareness campaign through the month of June. Working with JSS Durumi 2 in Abuja, we will survey up to 200 junior secondary school girls to get a sense of how much the girls know about menstrual health and what they do to manage their periods (think: types of products, how to relieve pain from cramping, etc.). On June 20, we’ll hold a lecture series based on our findings to provide accurate information and tips to help manage periods. During the event, we will also distribute menstrual hygiene kits to the students containing sanitary pads, toilet paper, soap, and hand sanitizer.
Here’s where you come in. To make this happen, we are currently accepting donations to help us fill as many as 400 menstrual hygiene kits. If you would like to get involved, here are two ways you can help:
Monetary Donations: All proceeds will be used to purchase items for the kits. Please visit our donation page for more information on how you can give. If you’re in Nigeria, you can also send donations directly to Give Girls A Chance, GTBank 0231710694.
Kit Donations: If you are in the Abuja area and would like to contribute items for the kits, please reach out to Princess Omenyi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No amount or item is too small. The more kits we create and distribute, the closer we get to reducing the number of girls at risk of missing school as a result of their periods.