BY Vivian Chime
Ashley Lori, founder of Padup Africa, a non-governmental organisation, says the national assembly should enact a law that offers girls free sanitary pads in schools, especially in rural areas.
Lori said this in Abuja on Saturday during a ‘Walk for Pad’ rally organised by Padup Africa to commemorate World Menstrual Hygiene Day.
The day is celebrated every year to raise awareness of the importance of menstrual care and the challenges faced by women and girls during menstruation.
Lori said nothing should hold back a girl child from chasing her dreams, and as such, the government needs to address the issue of period poverty.
“The reason why we are doing this is because we noticed that the poverty level in Nigeria is higher than what it used to be. The girl child normally is already marginalised and menstruation as a natural phenomenon we believe should not be any hold back for the girl to be in school,” She said.
“So we are advocating today being Menstrual Hygiene Day for free sanitary pads in secondary schools, rural areas and public places for the girl child and for the woman who can barely feed her family.
“Because they can’t feed, what they now resort to is using things like rags, newspaper, nylon, leaves and even ashes as sanitary pads. Because of that a lot of them have contracted a lot of infections and have had fibroids and been diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“We are looking for the stakeholders, government policymakers to implement the policy that says the girl child has right to education and if menstruation is going to stop one then let’s make do with what we have and keep the girl child in school. We are asking that they implement free sanitary pads in schools in rural community schools to be precise.”
Speaking about this year’s theme — ‘Making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030’ — Lori advised men all around the world to not “period shame” women.
She urged the federal government to create period breaks for women because “during our menstrual period we have some sort of hormonal imbalance, we have mood swings which is part of the premenstrual syndrome. This could make us slow in delivery and some people don’t understand this”.
Florence Ibrahim, a representative of the Shield Girls to Women Initiative, said: “A lot of young girls can’t even afford a good meal, how much more having to provide a sanitary towel. So we are campaigning to see if the government can actually give free sanitary towels to young girls in communities and secondary schools.”
Alu Azege, director of Media Health and Rights Initiative of Nigeria, said the campaign hopes to demystify menstrual myths, address harmful menstrual practices and also educate young Nigerian girls on the need to maintain a higher level of hygiene when on their period.
She encouraged every girl child and woman to “be proud of being a girl, menstruation is a normal thing, it makes you a woman, without it you cannot give birth to the next generation and as we know no woman no nation”.