UGOCHI NWAGBO reports that in most parts of Igbo land and even beyond, menstruation by women and adult females are seen as something of a taboo and period of spiritual uncleanliness.
It is believed in Igbo land that menstruating adult females carry some form of spiritual curses and effect to the detriment of the manly status of men and titled men in the area.
To this end, it is forbidden for a menstruating woman to prepare food for her husband or even enter her husband’s private room as according to tradition, it weakens the spiritual aura of a man and adversely affects that which he is revered for.
This also explains why most men in the days of old marry more than one wife in other to have an alternative when the other woman is menstruating.
Despite civilization and advent of Christianity that ancient belief has remained and women have come to live with it.
It is against this back drop that UNICEF in collaboration with Emory University (USA) and Canadian Government Foreign Affairs Trade and Development (DAFTD) undertook a research in fourteen countries on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM).
Here in Nigeria, (MHM) in schools research project was carried out in 2015 in four selected schools each in Anambra, Kastina and Osun States. The report of the research was finalized and the findings and recommendations indicated significant challenges experienced by girls and women both at school and in communities.
In this 2018 global MHM Day, Anambra schools that benefited from the program included Community Secondary School, Akwukwu, in Idemili South LGA, Technical School, Otolo in Nnewi North, Akubuezem Community Secondary School, Nnewi North; Ichi Community Secondary School Nnewi; Anglican Girls Secondary school, Ichi; Community school, Nnobi and Nnokwa in Idemmili South LGA.
The year 2018 Global MHM has its theme as “No more Limit’’ to GMHS aimed at creating awareness on the need for effective hygiene living among menstruating women in Anambra State and beyond.
World Bank Menstrual Hygiene Specialists and Consultant for UNICEF Mr. Daniel Ilegbu and Lillian Oyama, said the programme was to commemorate the 2018 Menstrual Hygiene Day that is globally celebrated which seeks to break the discrimination and other unruly treatments against women during menstruation and have great confidence during menstruation which according to then is the dignity and pride of every women.
In her overview during the occasion, the UNICEF focal person for Anambra state government, Dr. (Mrs). Rose Amasiana listed some of the challenges faced by menstruating Girls and young women to include “Lack of sanitary protection materials leading to embarrassment and stress due to leakage. Smell and teasing. Lack of private facilities and services at school to manage menstruation fear of using the latrine in case others discover menstrual blood.
According to her measures to combat these challenges include “To ensure all round education on MHM in schools and empower girls and boys alike, access to affordable and hygienic menstrual products in school ensure available and sustained water and sanitation in schools for all pupils and students breaking down taboos and say no to negative attitude of cultures placed on menstruation provision of functional segregated toilets with running water, soap and mirror for girls.
Also it is being canvassed that there should be the inauguration and mainstreaming of Health/MHM clubs in schools for the promotion of hygiene education in school programmes for boys and girls and also partnering with the private sector to supply disposable sanitary pads to girls in schools.