Sound Ability for Vulnerable Women Initiative Nigeria (SAVWIN), has sensitized stakeholders and gatekeepers on menstrual hygiene management of adolescent girls with disabilities in Plateau state.
The advocacy/community sensitization was organised, with visits to Otana integrated school and Baptist science grammar school, ahead of the initiative’s planned training on re-usable sanitary pads in August. The event was supported by Development Exchange Center (DEC) and Bread of the World.
Speaking during the 2-day event, the Executive Director of SAVWIN, Miyausa Wayuta Mshelia, said the group is currently carrying out “Rags2Pads” projects aimed at ensuring that rural adolescent girls with disabilities stay in classes thereby increasing rate of school retention and improving their hygiene through the distribution of re-usable sanitary pads and train on the local production of the re-usable pads which they can use and sell for an income.
According to UNICEF, one in every ten schoolgirls in Africa miss classes or drop out completely due to their period, and substitute pads or tampons for less safe and less absorbent materials such as rags, newspaper or bark.
The Executive Director said “It is a widespread but unacknowledged problem that girls in Africa miss school and stay at home because of menstruation.
This is because there are lack of affordable sanitary products and facilities, lack of clean and healthy sanitation such as toilets and running water, and taboo nature of menstruation prevents girls and their communities from talking about and addressing the problem.
According to Ms Wayuta “Many young girls with disabilities lack adequate knowledge about their menstrual hygiene and many others have no access to affordable and quality sanitary pads.
“These girls face a double-edged discrimination for being girls and also for being girls with disabilities. Due to negative perceptions about disability their caregivers/parents usually put little or no effort concerning their menstrual and reproductive health, as such majority of them would improvise ways of taking care of themselves – this includes usage of rags due to inability to afford them.
“For girls with disabilities, the case is even worse. With 9/10 persons living below the poverty line, many girls with disabilities cannot afford to buy a pack of sanitary pads on a monthly basis. As a result, many of them drop out of schools during their monthly flow.”
The group said the projects are designed to train adolescent girls with disabilities on menstrual hygiene management, production of re-usable sanitary pads and train peer educators.
The training would extend to teachers on reproductive health and menstrual hygiene of girls with disabilities.
It would also help in establishing a reproductive health clubs, where girls with disabilities who are members of the clubs will be trained on peer-to-peer education on menstrual and reproductive health.
SAVWIN called for support with a wide range of State and non-state actors in Plateau State to ensure the successful execution of the projects.