Girls’ rights international non-governmental organisation, Plan International has called for the provision of free sanitary pads for adolescent girls in Nigeria for better menstrual management.
Speaking at a stakeholder dialogue with support from Kimberly-Clark to commemorate this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day with the theme ‘‘Menstruation Matters: My Period, My Pride,” Country Director of the Plan International in Nigeria, Mr Charles Usie, said the totality of a girl’s life would remain incomplete without adequate menstrual health.
The hybrid event which was attended by adolescent girls, relevant government officials, development partners, civil society organisations and journalists featured panel discussions, experience sharing from the Bauchi online participants and policy engagement.
He said menstruation was neither an illness nor a problem to be ashamed about while calling for open conversation on the subject to eradicate stigma which he described as unnecessary.
“At some point in our history, this was how we advocated to eradicate HIV/AIDS. One of the things we did was to advocate for free condoms. Menstrual health is an issue; let us also raise our voices so that it will get to a point where sanitary pads will become free for young girls,” he said.
Mr Usie emphasised that “you cannot look at the totality of the life of a girl child and not talk about menstrual health and that is why at this time of the year, we stand with all the girls in Nigeria and across the world to say menstrual health is not just a girl or a woman issue but all of us. At Plan International, we identify with menstrual health because it is not a shame, it is not a secret, it is not a problem neither is it a sickness.”
Plan International Nigeria which is currently running a project on menstrual health in Bauchi state funded by Kimberly-Clark, has over the years, provided over 9,000 dignity kits to girls, empowering them with information on menstrual hygiene management, increased knowledge on periods to over 6, 000 girls, with a pool of community members who are better informed about periods, and galvanized Women in WASH in some of our intervention states, to take on the sensitization of in-school girls on their periods with support from the education authorities.
The organisation has also built 155 gender-segregated toilets in schools, which has provided an enabling environment for WASH in schools with regards to Menstrual hygiene management.
Plan International started 85 years ago and has been operating in Nigeria since 2014 with presence in more than 70 countries across the world.
“We want to see 200 million girls standing strong together globally for the next five years. It is ambitious but we know we cannot achieve it alone which is why we collaborate with stakeholders,” the country director emphasised.
In Nigeria, he said the organisation is targeting “10 million girls which will be reviewed” adding that “we want to see 10 million girls standing strong for global change.”