29th May, 2021
Ogun State First Lady, Bamidele Abiodun has condemned cultural and religious bias which some tribes view as a taboo for a woman to menstruate.
Abiodun said it is imperative for the girl child to have proper and adequate knowledge about her monthly cycle to remain healthy and attain quality education for individual and societal development.
Abiodun said that about 130 million girls were out of school, sequel to the absence of the knowledge on how best to conduct themselves during their monthly cycle.
The First Lady said this while speaking at the commemoration of the 2021 Menstrual Hygiene Day with the theme “Action and Investment in Menstrual Hygiene and Health” held at the Conference Hotel, Oke Mosan, Abeokuta.
She said no young girl should be deprived of education due to ignorance, adding that this had led some of the girls to make poor personal decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, resulting in a cycle of early pregnancy and child marriages.
She condemned some communities that still attached cultural and religious bias and taboos to menstruation, submitting that such had negatively impacted and deprived a lot of young girls of educational opportunities, impeding women and girls around the world from reaching their full potentials and causing a general deterioration in health.
The First Lady opined that actions and necessary steps needed to be taken to address the issues, break the silence and raise more public awareness to change the negative social norms around menstrual hygiene health, with a view to enhancing the confidence of the girl child in the society.
She encouraged girls and women to give priority to their own health and general wellbeing and make efforts to equip themselves with the right tools and knowledge to live healthy and fulfilled lives.
She reiterated the state government’s commitment to giving priority to the welfare of the citizenry and children by providing access to water in schools and other public places to promote proper hygiene and healthy practices during the monthly cycles.
“We will engage more decision-makers to increase political priority and catalyze actions for Menstrual Hygiene Health. In this regard, I am having conversations with the Ministry of Trade and Investment to remove import duties on sanitary pads because there is an urgent need to make sanitary pads available to promote proper menstrual hygiene practices,” she asserted.
Abiodun called on entrepreneurs and investors to step in and fill the gaps by embarking on the production of sanitary pads, urging environmentalists to also offer reusable pads.
In her words, “I believe that this also presents a good opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors among us to step in and fill the gaps by going into the production of more sanitary pads.
“Environmentalists can also take advantage of this opportunity and offer reusable pads, educate women and girls on the proper use and promote sustainable health practices that can be passed on for many generations.”
The participating girls were given packs of sanitary pads, trained on how best to use sanitary pads, calculate their menstrual cycle and make reusable pads by themselves.
Abiodun also presented the participating schools with sewing machines that would be used by the girls in the schools to make their reusable pads.
The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Abayomi Arigbabu in his goodwill message, appreciated the various initiatives of Mrs. Abiodun towards the well-being of the people of the state particularly girls and women.
In her goodwill message, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker said from the start of a woman’s first cycle (between age 12 and 48) to menopause, the average woman would have had around 427 periods in her lifetime.
She added that around 10 years or about 3,500 days of the average woman’s life would have been spent menstruating while calling on the people to erase the taboos surrounding Menstrual Hygiene and support girls to surmount the challenges they face during their cycle which according to her ranges from pains, mood swings and stains among others.
The Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hon. Funmi Efuwape, on her part, emphasized the need for the girls to live above humiliation and shame associated with stains during the cycle and radiate confidence explaining that menstruation remained an important aspect of a woman’s life which if does not occur makes the woman incomplete.