Menstrual hygiene is fundamental to well being of women, says UNICEF

From Maurice Okafor, Enugu

The United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF), has expressed the need for women and girls to properly be educated on their menstrual cycle, whether in the house, at school or in their duty posts.

The Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) Manager, UNICEF Nigeria, Mamita Nora Thakkar, spoke at a workshop to mark its 2020 programme on Menstruation and Hygiene in Enugu.

Speaking on the theme, “Menstrual Hygiene Management: It’s Time for Action, Mr. Thakkar described Menstrual Hygiene as a global event meant to raise awareness on the issues of menstruation.

He said UNICEF decided to provide global platform to draw attention of governments, decision makers, and media professionals on the need to address issues of menstruation appropriately.

According to him, it had become pertinent to resolve problems which women and girls encounter during mensturation, especially for those who do not have access to basic social services like water and sanitation.

He stated, “Menstrual hygiene is fundamental to the dignity and well-being of women and girls and an important part of the basic hygiene, sanitation and reproductive health services to which every woman and girl has a right”.

“Good menstrual hygiene is crucial for the health, education, and dignity of girls and women. By providing adequate knowledge and skills to manage her menstruation, we contribute to herself-esteem and confidence and empower her,” he said.

He lamented that the negative implications of not providing adequate facilities for women and girls to cater for their menstrual cycle, including girls dropping out-of-school when they attain maturity age.

He stressed: “When toilets are not available or not functional or when hand washing facilities and soap is not available, this becomes a major obstacle to going to schools during those days, when the girl is menstruating.

“Imagine expecting a girl to concentrate in a class, when she is not able to wash herself, or go to the toilet, for long hours, added to the fear of staining herself and getting ridiculed by the boys!

“This is a reality faced by a majority of girls when they are menstruating, and schools do not provide adequate wash facilities,” he stated.

He also explained that research conducted by Emory University and UNICEF Nigeria showed that only 16 percent of the schools in Nigeria have basic water and sanitation facilities, and only 7 per cent of the schools have basic water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, putting enormous challenge to menstruating girls to manage their menstruation hygienically and with dignity.

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