Mrs Zainab Khaleel, National Coordinator, Young Ambassadors Against Drugs Abuse Initiative (YAADAI), an NGO, says menstruation is not a taboo, advising girls to practice proper hygiene.
Khaleel gave the advice in Abuja on Saturday during an awareness campaign and distribution of sanitary pads to girls in Apo and Waru communities in Abuja.
She said the programme was in partnership with the Street Children’s Parliament to educate the street connected and marginalised girls in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to her, the aim of the programme is to celebrate children’s day and also break the stigma around menstruation, provide access to menstrual health education and how it should be managed.
She explained that street children were children who depended on the streets for their survival.
“The street connected children do not enjoy lot of things other children do; every year we bring the children who are most vulnerable to educate them on important issues such as menstrual hygiene and many others.
“In the past, people see menstrual issues as taboo and most girls do not know what is expected of them once they are menstruating.
“So we came to the community to educate the girls on proper hygiene during menstruation,’’ she said.
She expressed disappointment that the school did not have toilets which made the girls to go home whenever they were on their periods.
The coordinator said the organisation would equip the school with chairs, complete the additional classrooms and ensured that the school had portable water to enable the children practice good hygiene.
“Menstrual period is a natural thing, most girls are ashamed to talk about menstrual period which mindset we are trying to change. We teach on how to properly dispose the pads,” she said.
Mr Timothy David, YAADAI’s Director Child Development, said the day was to also create awareness on world menstrual hygiene day, ” so we did sanitation and distribution of sanitary pads.
“We try to assist them to care for themselves on proper hygiene,’’ David said.
Master Emmanuel Okafor, Head Boy of Junior Secondary School Apo in Waru, said that the two programmes were very important as it related to the downtrodden who were often forgotten in the scheme of affair.
According to Okafor, every child deserves to be loved and shown affection irrespective of where he or she comes from.
He said that children’s day was to raise awareness on issues affecting children’s wellbeing for example child labour, child trafficking, street begging, hawking, child soldiers and teenage girls lured into prostitution.
Okafor advised government at all levels to ensure that schools were safe, implement all policies and laws that affect children in the country.
He called for the review of the Child Rights Act in conformity with present day reality.
“The law stipulates that it should be reviewed after 10 years, and 18 years of being in existence, we are still batting with its being domesticated and implemented,’’ he said.
Okafor advocated prosecution of parents whose children engage in begging, hawking instead of being in school.
He said that government at all levels should discourage child marriage as every girl child should be encouraged to go to school and be useful to her and the society in general.
Mrs Ramat Etamesor, Vice Principal, Admin, advised the girls on how to protect themselves from men and properly dispose the pads.
Etamesor said that people should not form the habit of putting used pads in the toilets as such would block it.
“Any normal girl starts to menstruate at age 15 and so must be careful on how it is managed.
She advised girls to bathe twice a day during menstruation for good hygiene practice.
Etamesor advised young girls to resist temptation of being deceived by men or be carried away because any act of sex with men after the commencement of menstrual period would result to pregnancy.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that every May 28, is celebrated as Menstrual Hygiene Day, to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management at global level. (NAN)